UNDERGROUND VOICES: POETRY
NOEL SLOBODA

Features of Yesterday

Unsteady in morning,
               you rely on touch
to compose a face,
               to find the parts:
eyes, nose and mouth
               thrown off
in the dark,
               like inhibitions
after the fifth beer
               of happy hour.
Inky coffee is wanted
               before starting, but fingers
first must stumble blindly,
               overturning dead flowers,
uncapped pill bottles,
               find a way in, make
a red slash across the bottom
               half of what was
unmasked last night. No
               nose as constellation
over the lower region
               makes it impossible to
fix a smile; itís hard
               enough to open
up the portal,
               no way to sense
once itís unlatched
               what will come out. †


Dream Bunker

Always was easy
smashing my head
on the bottom rack
of my bunk.

By design
narrow and tight
its metal support
bars hung low.

They kept heavy
upper tenants--who
never visited my
room--from sagging.

I connected
if suddenly I started
and even at six had to
slide sideways into bed.

Like a tomb sometimes
the bottom bunk felt
and I liked lying
inside it then.

Chipped and dinged
the bunk had been cast
off from a training center
for stewardesses.

Restless at night I
dreamt of planes and
connections between
open skies and tight spaces.

I grew ever more aware
of the emptiness above
waiting for me even
though I couldnít touch it.

I filled the space
myself with a lost
brother discovered
or a friend sleeping over.

No one ever
really was there but
fantasies made me feel
a little bit better.

Not as much after
I cracked
my skull rising
from nightmares.

I asked my parents
why for an only child
buy a two-tiered bed
and they explained.

It was just ten bucks
at auction. Besides you
never know when extra
space might come in handy.

Subsequent years
left me lonely yet
proved the truth
of what they said.

I piled treasures above
from classics in tattered
blue covers to a crossbow
with its string snapped.

I had army knives
rusty and nicked
signs stolen from up
on Lovejoy Street.

Loaded with all
Iíd collected my roof
sank low when
the lights went off.

I wanted to reach
through the sky
feel not just above
but beyond.

Sometimes I thought
there might be a third
bunk above me
maybe a fourth.

Under the weight of it
all bedsprings might snap
and bars which hurt upon
waking might save me.


Noel is a writer currently living in
Pennsylvania, where he teaches at Penn
State York and serves as dramaturg for
the Harrisburg Shakespeare Festival.
His work has appeared or is forthcoming
in a number of places, including Studies
in the Humanities, FRiGG, remark, RE:AL,
ShatterColors Literary Review, Waterways,
Ghoti, Triptych Haiku, and Boston
Literary Magazine.







© 2007 Underground Voices