Waking Up in Florida
Water from a sprinkler
hits the window every twenty-seven
seconds. A mockingbird rises
and falls along the power lines running
through the back yard. She sings,
lifts into the air then settles
again. After that, freight trains
loaded with products bound
for South America chug toward Miami,
traffic hisses coolly on US 1
and semis floor it up and down I-95.
Late in the afternoon a catalog
of other birds and the hum
of airborne insects. I hear those
before waves collapsing on shore
or whitecaps smacking
the bow of the boat.
It’s my childhood, noises
outside the house louder than
memory, louder than my voice
crashing against the walls,
its paper-thin buzz
like a dragonfly trapped
on a screened-in porch.
Light flickers like it does in dreams, quick hits
of darkness, long enough to feel anxious.
The bartender refills my glass before
I ask. She cuts lemons into wedges
then cuts lemons into wedges. No one
notices we’ve heard this song already. . .
haven’t we? Maybe more than once. I know
the lushes seated nearby. Not their names
or personal histories, but I’ve seen
their faces fill with grace and mercy. Each
struggles daily with their own untamed faith.
I need help. I can’t recall why this song
repeats or why I’m dizzy now, weeping
over a tune I can’t seem to forget.
A former bar owner, SM Stubbs has been nominated for the Pushcart and Best New Poets; recipient of a scholarship to and staff member at Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference; and winner of the 2019 Rose Warner Poetry Prize from The Freshwater Review. His work has appeared in numerous magazines, including Poetry Northwest, Puerto del Sol, Carolina Quarterly, New Ohio Review, Iron Horse Literary Review, Crab Creek Review, December, and The Rumpus.