Often I’m awakened by awful noises,
jackhammers, dynamite, walls crumbling
and bigger ones climbing the sky
in their places. My future arrives and I
have to settle for it. I don’t understand how
I got here any more than a lobster understands
how it ended up in a tank next to a Please wait
to be seated sign, but both of us can read
the faces of the cruelly beautiful women
pointing at us. I always feel eyes on me,
so I apologize to insects after I kill them
and to the salmon on my plate, caught
being nostalgic for home. Everything makes sense
if you squint just right, and at least once a day
I realize that whatever I’ve been saying
isn’t the point at all. I spend most days listening
to other people almost making sense, and I don’t
ask them what the hell they’re talking about
because they’re on television or the radio, or
because I’m eavesdropping from the next table.
When I’m not talking or listening, I'm in a
boil, my shell softening. I'm getting a good look
at a wrecking ball. I’m crumbling.
I volunteered for all this, accidentally,
by raising my hand, intending to ask
a question I couldn’t put into words.
Tom C. Hunley is an associate professor of creative writing at Western Kentucky and the director of Steel Toe Books. He has published poems in various literary journals, including Triquarterly, New York Quarterly, North American Review, New Orleans Review, and River Styx. He has recently won two national contests, one for a full-length poetry manuscript (Logan House Press) and another for a chapbook (Pecan Grove Press). Hunley is also the author of Teaching Poetry Writing: A Five-Canon Approach (Multilingual Matters LTD. 2007).