by Fred Muratori

Forced awakenings at noon and never enough espresso. Through
plow-and-pickax autumn we scratch phases of the moon on
frosted panes, make friends with last week’s cafeteria foe, trade
pocket-furred sweets for metaphors and gesso. Some of us burn
out within days, others thrive despite indifferent critiques,
theorizing in pajamas while our fellowships run out and Wall Street
prospers. Genius grants fall just short of the porch. Crop dusters
drop rejections in the dry fields. But sometimes it’s like living in a
locomotive: roar and rhythm, smell of hot grease stinging the brain,
the sun a cold searchlight sweeping our bunks, no stopping, no time
for looting orchards, for red-haired farm girls bearing pancakes, for
playing fetch with border collies. We know these quarters shape
our histories, temper the techniques we believe we’ll never
change, like last year’s calendar stowed in a cookie jar, its blue-
green slopes and blown-glass waves, its snow-laced courtyards,
pumpkins, fish ponds, and wet ducklings, its lapsed, repeating
numbers. But each Saturday, fewer volunteers sign up for the
talent show, and each morning we find yet another set of exiting
footprints in the freshly painted floor.

Fred Muratori has published three full-length collections of poetry. His poems and prose poems have appeared in The Iowa Review, Poetry, Hotel Amerika, Barrow Street, The Best American Poetry, Boston Review, Vinyl, and Volt, among others. He lives and works in Ithaca, New York.