I’m thinking of time, or the way
you said a quarter century.
How it sagged against one
of four walls, sunk like a rock
to the bottom of the break room.
We were speaking of this place,
its right angles and ghostly fluorescence.
If only we too could regenerate
with a fresh coat of paint or a new
row of windows winking in sunlight,
things would be different.
If only those stairs were less steep.
For half a half century we’ve clattered
inside this box like the shaken
contents of a yet unwrapped present,
living the gift of half-lives.
As if we were ever all there
to begin with.
Going Back on the Pills
Friday of the first week of the first
ninety day refill and I’m already paying
the price of readmission, have already
become the last of our peanut butter wrung
out of its hollowed jar, its tic-tac-toe
of desperate striations, the sound of it
stuck and strained through steel
across scorched dermises of bread.
Oh, but isn’t that the process –
placing each empty vessel in the trash?
And later, with a little pat of luck,
a little therapy, the recycling before
remembering like everyone else
to stop at the store for more,
that pleasure of choice – chunky,
smooth – laid out like an ailing road
they keep patching and releasing
to the insanity of traffic.
Gus Peterson lives and writes beside the Kennebec River in Maine, where he serves on the board of the Maine Poets Society, a nonprofit dedicated to encouraging a love for and a practice of poetry for all Maine residents. Recent work has appeared online with Rattle's Poets Respond series and abroad with Black Noir Review, and is forthcoming in print with Pirene's Fountain in 2023.