Category: Poems from The Salt

Peter Schireson

Violets

Violets

In the thick 

of our holy quarrel

you leaned in 

to whisper 

the most important thing,

but were silent, 

and I wanted to leave you 

alone

across the table

on your device, 

but I knocked over our old vase 

spilling the violets,

and you looked at me

as if before they fell,

you’d seen them

already fallen.

The Salt

The Salt

I set out to attain nothing more

than myself, and before long, 

had no money 

and only one tooth,

the price I paid

to locate this exotic kingdom,

where mud-caked holy men 

wander barefoot from place 

to arduous place,

where the people need salt, 

find it in the sea, call 

what we call sea, “The Salt,” 

and sing, “Let us walk 

along the shore of The Salt.”

Yes, that will be the title.

Trigger Warning

Trigger Warnings

I believed I knew the contents 

of the firing chamber, knew 

the sear surface and hammer materials,

until one day at the zoo,

as I leaned on a railing watching the gibbons balletic,

I saw in the acrylic panel enclosing the cage

my own reflection, an unarticulated skeleton in a specimen jar.

As snow fell in late afternoon,

and with regard to the color crimson,

I considered how snow and crimson sometimes left me distressed by the sound 

of my own shattery breath,

how hearing

a guilty verdict on the radio while driving

to my parent’s house made me feel

like slapping myself.

I really can’t say

if my index finger is required

to actuate a firing sequence,

or my thumb to activate the cocking machinery,

but while swimming laps at the Y,

the pale skin of the old man in the next lane wearing a blue bathing cap 

provoked an encounter with solitude, 

bringing tears that pooled in my goggles.

On a couch

at the end of the hospital corridor,

watching the night custodian buff the linoleum

aroused a trumpeting angel beast. 

Another evening,

as I urinated in the bathroom of my favorite bar

while they were playing “Rap God,” which I love,

I was consumed by loneliness, and then, later, strange purification.

I don’t know anything

about the safety or logic 

of the trigger mechanism,

nor can I say with any certainty

how easy or difficult to release 

the hammer.