On Saving the Old Bouquet

John Bonanni

Lately, a child whose heart is so full
              they arrive to school opening their mouth
                            & spilling from their lips the whole floral section
                                          of Stop n Shop. We cup the flowers in our hands
                                                        & shirts. I help dust the petals.

                                                                      Each rose is a memory flaking.

Lately, an adult who looks at the time on his phone
              then uses its light to walk by. His footsteps are ticking,

                            his heels kick up hourglass sand. He looks back
                                          & back & back again, as though searching
                                                        for Lot’s wife, his mother, forever Sodom’s salt.

Lately, we blow into our mugs. It is wine, but no one
              deserves to know this. Pinot. Me & you.
                            I use Scotch tape to hang a tea string from the lips

                                          of our vessels. They dangle like two sunrises.

Lately, the sun stays hanging in the air & guilting us all into play.
              Lately, I play. The rules are broken, the sun rays

                            disenthralled. If I miss the dead too much,
                                          they follow me into my dreams, pulling out chairs
                                                        in their kitchens. Over coffee, over tea,

they sing, Spill! Spill the petals all over your precious tile floors!
              They harmonize like Simon & Garfunkle.
                            They flop through pages & pages of their diaries.
                                          They open a window & let the pollen in.

John Bonanni (he/him/his/they/them/their) is a Queer poet whose poems have appeared in Foglifter, Gulf Coast, CutBank, Verse Daily, Washington Square Review, North American Review, Hobart, and Prairie Schooner. His manuscript, Pulsations, has been named a finalist for the Agnes Lynch Starrett Award, the Zone 3 Book Award, the Poetry Out Loud Award (Fordham University Press), and the New Issues Book Award. A founding editor of the Cape Cod Poetry Review, his book reviews have appeared in DIAGRAM, Tupelo Quarterly, the Rumpus, Rain Taxi, and Kenyon Review, and his research on poetry writing interventions for students with disabilities can be found in the Graduate Review (Bridgewater State University). More at www.johnbonanni.com.

© Variant Literature Inc 2023