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Carl Boon

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Carl Boon lives in Izmir, Turkey, where he teaches courses in American culture and literature at 9 Eylül University. His poems appear in dozens of magazines, most recently Lime Hawk and The Lullwater Review. Forthcoming work is scheduled to appear in The Maine Review and The Hawaii Review. He was also a 2016 Pushcart Prize nominee.


Sooner or Later is a song,
something we play when love is over.
Established on the couch,
the blue tray she brought
from Bodrum and the bottle of wine
be brought from Ohio commingle.
A question comes from the corner of the room:
Have the poppies died
or has it simply gotten dark?
He lets the phone ring
twenty-one times before he retreats:
twenty-one Pablo Neruda songs,
twenty-one Adrienne Rich poems.
We recite these when love is over,
but Sooner or Later continues
in eternal repeat. And so it meant
he thought her shoulders fierce,
she thought how kind he was
to adorn his walls with what she painted.
A different kind of man, specks
of watercolor on his polo.
When love is over, it dissolves
into a series of scenes, and the man
who made the song knew well
a blue July morning at the farm,
a scarf she wore to shield her from the snow,
the claws she grew. One of them must know
what you’re supposed to do
when love is over, or else
it haunts: a blackbird’s fractured wing,
a question mark, a comma, a long
pause along a ditch where apples
bloomed. That was love,
and when it’s over we go back and fail
to retrieve what’s fallen.


At a phone booth, Death
says I’ll wait for you to make
this call. It must be important;
it must be what you need to do.
I see you have a decision,
&, terribly, you’re only human.
I suddenly have the urge
to smoke instead of talk
so I back away, but Death follows.
He even lights my cigarette—
his lighter’s blue & orange
and abstractly both, swirled,
the color of the girl
I was going to call.
In our dance, night’s
come across the city,
& I wonder why I never danced
with her. Opportunities & hours,
poems to write for her
instead of her, & I hate myself.
I think: life was easy. We ate.
We drank orange soda
from blue and orange cans,
swirled. We made love
& I kissed her shoulders
& sometimes it rained. Sometimes
I went for bread. But Death
won’t have this nostalgia,
this shit of what was & what
might’ve been. He grows impatient.
What’re you gonna do, bud?
he asks. I don’t have all night.
But the number, I say.
There were threes & fives
& what happens
if she doesn’t answer?
She might be in the shower.
She might be making dinner,
steam upon her sexy skin.
I am a poet! I say. “Death
shall have no dominion.”
He laughs. I had drinks
with Dylan Thomas last night,
he says. No problem.
She’s gonna hate me
for succumbing so easily.
I think to raise a fist.
I think to run. I think
of the terrible heat
between her thighs in June,
my tongue against her ribs.
Yup, she’s really gonna hate me
because she loved me
without saying it.
She loved me, & now
I’m shadow-boxing
a man in a disturbing tie
in central Izmir. Bud,
he says, let’s get this done,
he says. I wanna cup of coffee
& a slice of carrot cake.
I got other men to kill.
This is my job, he says.
I think, while the girl I love
checks her smile in her phone
& wonders: it’s after nine
& he hasn’t called. Maybe
he never loved me at all.


Her father unearthed
a pink stone, a thing the girl
thought alien and radiant,
the way it captured the sun
more than his rows
of cherries and plums
glistening, the skin of infants.

She desired to hold it,
carry it to her room.
For she could only sleep
if something somewhere glowed,
a reminder there was light,
a reminder she would stand
against the world someday.

First her elbow rose,
then a pair of fingers
reached forward, her father
waiting in the shadows,
the apples above no larger
than her fists. She touched it,
it touched her, and a thousand

necessary things happened
near and far: brides stumbled,
men laughed, the weather
changed, the oceans rose.
She would have to get used to it,
this new light, almost not
of this world, like love.

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