Poem of the Week: ‘Petrichor’ by Torrin Greathouse

Petrichor

3rd Place
‘Waiting For the Bus After The Flesh For Lulu Concert, Graffiti, 1986’ by Robert Walicki

Back when B.O. was cool,
we strutted in darkness as if we had a reason,

gum stuck streets and a beer buzz piss coming on,
our feet, heavy with the Doc Martins we wore.

Even the cars slowing down to laugh at us, call us queer
for our makeup, for the blue we colored our hair,

scared by our blackness the fearlessness, of our rage.
Nights, when I sprayed my hair till it froze and drew

my eyes on with eyeliner to stare at the dirty tiled floor
of a bar called Graffiti where Flesh For Lulu

shocked me out of my body. I didn’t know a man
could pull off a lipstick scream,could rock

a body in a sweaty house dress, chest exposed to that discoed light.
I clung to a Goth girl who said I looked “pretty”,

kissed me then said we looked too “hetero”
left before the encore, my ear still burning

from guitar fire, what it meant to be alive.
On the way out, a glimpse from the backroom—

the band, still stoned, the air, a sweet cloud
that hung like indecision. The drummer,

turning to me, blowing toward my face
tiny butt in his hand becoming ash,

then lisp of smoke, then nothing.

BIO: Robert Walicki’s first chapbook is A Room Full Of Trees (Redbird Press), and his second, The Almost Sound of Snow Falling, is forthcoming from Night Ballet Press. Additional work appeared in a number of journals including The Kentucky review, Heart Online, and on the radio show Prosody.

2nd Place
‘But Now’ by Rosa Walling-Wefelmeyer

for Maddy

I could write about you when you were only the dense tissue connecting my parents,
when childhood was your system of tautening muscles and my gender your matrix of fat,

when every year since birth offered you organs of significance: curiosity, compassion;
and every death, every discomfort flushed your vessel red and thumped you out alive.

I could put pencil to paper and finger to key when there was nothing new to inspire and
everything to exhale: cinema, music, you in religious texts, all alien cells ever ingested.

I could excrete your voice when it was regulated only by a complex of archetypes or phantasy,
when every projection ended in that empty chair, in desperate attendance on Gestalt or a god.

But now, when you are made of thick and formidable flesh, sticky steely blood, hair too black
and soft to translate between bodies, just a little chance, your own parents, your own will and wish,

I can’t find any original words                                                                            not a single word at all,
so must offer these others instead: you are utterly occupying and saturating, so devastating

that I fear I shall never build again and, should I ever feel once more that tap at tissue or tug at
muscle, that foreign call to enter inner worlds, they would be made of you, of you and you, again.

BIO: Rosa Walling-Wefelmeyer lives in the North East of England. Their work has appeared in, amongst other things, The American Aesthetic and The Journal and can be found at rosawallingwefelmeyer.wordpress.com.


1st Place
‘Petrichor’ by Torrin Greathouse

I drove,
windows down, volume up,
down back streets
blanketed in gray,
stained a shade darker
by cloud burst needles of rain.

Cool sunset rushed through
the open windows
whistling “Patience”
and I couldn’t help but to search.

The scent of the earth after rain.
The bloody tinge of hard-pack clay
gasoline rising from rainbow slicks
clouds of tobacco and marijuana
smoke, weighed down
by the moisture in the air.

The ozone buzz
of cable TV static,
coffee burning in the pot,
the soggy corners of
a dog-eared paperback novel
the acrid burn
of spun-out tires on virgin roads.
The scent of life after rain.

Outside the bar,
business suited thirty-something
undercover drunks
search for a bar that is open this early
on a Tuesday night.

Like dutch clockwork,
the same wooden people
circle back like vultures
searching for a body to bury
their beaks into.

One man slumps
italic
across the road.
His eyes,
two bloody marbles
buried in his butter cheeks,
jackknife the building
and he stumbles back from the collision
to the side of the road.

His body bends over the gutter,
swept clean by rivers
of brown water,
verging on collapse
like a willing convert
to the church of the ground.

His guts spill out
like the best kind of poetry,
an angry flood of pain
and the kind of truth you only get
when you dissect something.

His grimy forehead glistens
with beads of sweat
like car window coated
in dust and tears.
Baptized in the salt
of his own adobe body,
this man is what everyone
wishes they were.

And as he stumbles on,
violently into that gray night,
I can’t help but notice
he smells like a hard rain.

BIO: Torrin Greathouse is a Literary Journalism student and governing member of the Uncultivated Rabbits spoken word collective at UC Irvine. He was the 2015 winner of the Orange County Poetry Slam. Torrin’s work has been published in several literary magazines and one chapbook, Cosmic Taxi Driver Blues. He is currently employed as the executive assistant of a sustainable lighting firm. His previous jobs include security guard, farm hand, antique store clerk and tattoo artist.

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