People, with Figurative Language
I’ve never seen the back of my head,
but I’m sure it nearly resembles
a planet, continents grown too old
to stay together shattered into
their constituent parts, some surging
into grand mountain ranges, others
crumbling into skinny sand-spits
where something that looks like me,
but not quite, once crawled from
the water & discovered the supple
vertebrae of its spine. A spine that,
like the weather, ties me to the last
reticulated giraffes in ways I can
only scarcely begin to fathom.
It’s true, I’ve got some Emperor Hadrian
in my decision-making, the liquified
bones of a pterodactyl in my car engine,
yet I still drag around boatloads of feeling—
my arms notoriously goosebump from a hug,
& the clacking of string in the belly
of a piano can tug a tear from my eye.
It’s true, there’s almost nothing
I’ve seen, & yet I still grew bored
in Rome, its endless one-point perspective,
the brassy hats of its pope, the aqueduct
I cowered under, begging it for more aqueduct.
It seems we’ve argued with ourselves
for long enough in this watercolor of our
being loomed over by cloudy angels,
frozen in place by the heat, cubed off into cells
of blood & skin, red & blue purpling
only in the places where it counts.
What exactly is—ears, nose, & mouth—
the use of all this? We’ve quartered our years
into seasons like ham sandwiches,
traded dead presidents for milky ways,
strung mobiles of satellite in the night sky,
loaded our arms with lead & yet
I’ve still never seen the face I see out of.
Matthew Tuckner is a writer from New York. He is currently an MFA candidate in Creative Writing at NYU where he was Poetry Editor of Washington Square Review and taught in the Undergraduate Writing Program. He was the winner of the 2022 Yellowwood Poetry Prize, selected by Paige Lewis, and was a finalist for the annual Mississippi Review Poetry Prize. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming inAmerican Poetry Review, The Adroit Journal, 32 Poems, Copper Nickel, Colorado Review, Pleiades, West Branch, The Cincinnati Review, The Missouri Review, and Poetry Daily, among others.