Editors’ Choice, June 4-10, “Spaghetti,” by Samn Stockwell

The world can be a whirlwind, even in the calmest of times. Sense and thought are overwhelmed, we cannot order ourselves. It is not our fault. We struggle to get our heads above the turbulent waters, flailing in an open sea of confusion. You know the feeling, and so does Samn Stockwell. Enjoy this week’s Editors’ Choice.

I was scanned, they gave me morphine. I was grayish.
On the way to the hospital, we passed the Jack and Jill adult superstore
next to Bob’s Carpet Mart –
You can see how that would work.

For some days the rain had rippled roads until they disappeared.
In the hospital, I heard a clump of voices move down the hall,
talking of rain, robots, disappearances.

Last summer, we were eating plates of pasta in a pretentious restaurant
when the son of the doctor choked and hurled himself out of his chair.
The doctor wrapped her arms around his chest and heaved up.
She was small, but strong, and he vomited the meat chunk,
his dinner and drink copiously. His eyes reddened, he was shaking
and he was not 2 feet from us, so we knew how much his stepfather
disapproved of his spikes of uncombed hair.
You can see why I am telling you this. The waiter stood by with
a towel. The mother showed a clinician’s satisfaction
in her skill and accuracy. The dinner was over, and we too left.
The restaurant closed later that year, but probably for unrelated reasons

When I was twelve, we ate Chef-Boy-Ar-Dee spaghetti dinners.
The box of pasta rattled like pic-up-sticks,
the grains of meat in the tin of sauce
like sand, and powdery cheese – ambrosia.

This is the sound of my father’s car on the gravel of the driveway, and this is the green
dress my mother wore, and this the green suit my grandfather wore
as a custodian of a distant college after he sold the farm.

My father fished not because we were poor,
though we were, but because it was a prize,
the lake’s candy.

My father and my uncle
wanted me to come with them
to an observation tower overlooking the beach.
I suspected it was a trick because
they were, after all, dead
and my uncle laughed, a little bitter –
I wasn’t very trusting.
We were passing around a flask of whiskey
but I was nervous for obvious reasons.
I didn’t want to come be dead
although I would like to live
by an ocean. Would I remain turbulent?

In another dream,
my dead grandfather was driving me
on the backroads of Maine to someplace
I wanted – could anything be so far away?

When my grandmother
died, and we were standing in his kitchen,
he cried because she had been in such pain
and he couldn’t rescue her.

Sometimes the miracles people court
are shy about showing up.

I was scanned, they gave me morphine.
I thought I would like it better.
I think I’m going to be all right
for a while. I’ve been thinking
of you the entire time.

Samn Stockwell has been widely published, and her two books, Theater of Animals and Recital, won the National Poetry Series and the Editor’s Prize at Elixir, respectively. Recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in Gargoyle, Plume, Smartish Pace and others.