Matthew Minicucci: Two Poems

Children of Men

Like a rowboat with only one paddle, it’s a metaphor. It’s also unpleasant and difficult to drive. Backwards, of course. In circles that lead to forests where men, among other creatures, often bear themselves away to cry. Important, this show of water. Important because the boat is always just left of the hill’s crest; because tomorrow is something we talk about while spilling beans from a split can. In any migration, there’s always someone who’d rather stay. There’s refuge and refuse and speeches hanging on like radio crackle; hollow as a playground barrel. They’ll never stop fighting, you know, though their armistice is sea and scene swaddled; some impossible whale. Something you should know: a bullet hole. No, not just that. Maybe wounds like fog: there, out of reach. Have I told you about tomorrow? It’s a collapsed lung, so pneumothorax. Yes, the most breathtaking things always have the thickest armor.


You want to make it about heat, but really, it’s the pressure that gets to me. That a spaceship has no shoulders. That it’s all just some melted wax sex-toy in open space. They named the thing Icarus, because someone obviously likes fucking with fate; flicking their lighter at the filling station. And it makes sense. Mythology got us into this; a parent urging you not to do thing X at this particular time Y because: fire, further, father, sun. And so, you do X. Of course. And then you understand something slow; heat-death; cold confusion. How a forest could fly right by. Oxygen as open container spilling as you sway. We pay for the world in flesh. Firstlings in the flames. A funeral should always begin or end with a feast, if for no other reason than the alliteration. You need to understand: all immolation is, by definition, sacrifice. We can’t escape these etymologies. More confusing is the verb molere: to grind. But maybe the world is just trying to tell us about the burnt lubrication in the gears; desiccation in the downy yellow violets. They were my favorite, you know, before the snow. Birds, too. I loved them. I loved that something, anything, so completely owned the sky before men decided to fly.

Matthew Minicucci is the author of two collections of poetry: Small Gods, forthcoming this fall from New Issues Press, and Translation (Kent State University Press, 2015), chosen by Jane Hirshfield for the 2014 Wick Poetry Prize. He is the recipient of fellowships and awards from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Wick Poetry Center, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he received his MFA. His poetry and essays have appeared in or are forthcoming from numerous journals and anthologies, includingThe Gettysburg Review, Kenyon Review, Oregon Humanities, The Southern Review, and the Virginia Quarterly Review. He currently lives in Portland, OR.