First Dad: A Decrepit Ghazal
A wonderful poet could transmute a father
out of recycled cork: squeaky, wine-scented embrace.
A good poet could arrange popsicle sticks
into an ambulance shape and sacrifice the embers.
Brand new poets could at least regurgitate
a birthday cake, ferment it, and imbibe.
All I want is an email with the history
of my family’s disease emergences.
All I want is for poetry and God and my wife
and my children to not be enough.
I need to need a spell, an ancient altar
where I burn something precious for his real face:
something like my own fingers, something
like a family dog, someone like you reading this,
and something like whatever it takes
Descort for a Blank Face
About one in fifty people have aphantasia:
they cannot conjure
imagery in their minds. If you think
they operate at a deficit,
you have probably never seen
the embalmed hands
of someone who made you laugh
and cry. (only one of my fourth-grade classmates
came to the viewing, so I
tried to make her laugh before
sitting in the bathroom for an hour
and every other week Facebook suggests
I add her
as a friend but I won’t
because if she had aphantasia
I curse-cured it, a blood letting
in the curled shape of dad’s thumbs. If I
kept you from a life
of perfect knowledge, I am sorry
If your brain
is a paint bucket now,
upending and clogging your spine,
I am picking dried acrylics out of my
Jerrod Schwarz teaches creative writing at the University of Tampa and STEM programs at the Glazer Children's Museum. His poetry has appeared in print/online journals such as PANK, Entropy, Opossum, The Fem, Inklette, and many more. Most recently, his erasure poetry was highlighted on New Republic and Poetry Foundation. His first chapbook was published by Rinky Dink Press in 2016. He lives in Tampa, Florida with his wife and twin daughters.