It’d Be Through the Eyes of an Evolving Poverty of Body

Joseph Franklin
3 min readMay 23, 2020


It’d be freshly joined molecule.
bobs in the panpsychic kiddie pool of
why to ask the first question.

Not coherent questions,
rather the flip of creek stones
to find the underworld
of flipper tail crawdads. Each turn
a potential monster —
hellgrammite’s jaw like tin snips.

Three-thousand flips to find
infinite delivery rooms, death beds, and jailhouses.

More discarded labels
than a land fill.

A commune of carbon
collects the idea
of the boy.

Adolescence, up like flash paper,
staring at the sparkle.
Sweep the ash heap
under the mind’s endless sofa.

Every chemical reaction, bump of strings,
to the direct instant the cigarette butt
is flicked artfully from the rooftop
onto the placid night highway
below. Spinning to a dazzling
big bang razzle splash
of fire fleas.

Big Tobacco’s sea of spent filters
line street side ditches like zits
under nostrils, warts where toes nest.

Adam, the first boy,
up and at ‘em,
to clean the rows
a day after the flea market mayhem.
A job is to
organize, locate, relocate, shift, burn,
bury, filter, ponder, write about,
sell, buy, speculate, haul, or build
the trash.

Money in the pocket,
gas in the tank,
pills in the bottle,
rage and grip yet
in the fist.

Maybe it’d be that biography written
while falling asleep.

It’d assuredly be food for thought,
cooked under midnight streetlamp,
lizard on the walkway,
baked in the steel mills,
bubbled in blistering industrial deep fryers,
wings on weekends,
and blackened
on August tar-chipped bubbles.

It’d be stories
about dad pounding a knee
after work, sat,
listening to conservative radio,
Savage Nation. The woodstove
cracking, too, water boiling on top,
a mudroom smell of boots
and balls.

It’d be tar,
in all formulations.

The verbal warning
to get to your room, as an old car
hesitates up the gravel to a trailer.
Tar fills the cracks,
and gravity pushes it through
the hole, the frequented one
opposite your elbow,
where the heroin meets the blood brain barrier,
meets your hand,
and holds it to her burning breast —
a milk like wildflower honey.

The river city
where the poppy meets
her resting place of hermetically sealed pill bottle,
and the doctor
who opens up a farm.
The grazing cattle — it’d be among them
stretched around the block — lined up
for ego death. My brain tingles doc.

It’d be destitute in the evening,
when you fire up the Honda bike,
opium in the orbital,
and haven’t a place to go,
but anywhere but home is the pathos.
It’s riding at night, mind clean,
stopped on an iron bridge in the country
cause you heard fable
that a ghost can steal your soul here.

A grip on the throttle so tight
it makes a diamond piss.

It’d be that boy,
somehow a young man, now.
That side of town that don’t go to college,
let alone check-ins with the PO,
so it’s a nine-to-bell fourth meal cook,
or killing folks overseas. Our flags,
the simulacra of cheap goods.

It’d be none of that.

It’d be a goddamn poem going nowhere,
and its two-bit poet going up
an Ohioan alley,
mugsome, danksome air,
a fallen elm tree — wood turned cork shatter,
like a busted dice game
on the tar and chip.

Hesitant to give thanks
to the God of Misdirection.

It’d be steel on steel, bone on road,
the old fart killing a Honda bike
with a bumper,
leaving the boy’s body — the pieces
scooped and flown to Pittsburgh for repair
and restoration.

It’d be well out of its hands.

Poe talked about an Imp of the Perverse,
if not mistaken, right before dying in a ditch.

Who knew it’d be a fucking pill
from Portsmouth and the sticky black
from Jalisco? The Anguish Industrial Complex.

It’d be a balance on the gambrels of a leaking roof,
rain driving bullets, sky looking green,
whether to medicate the pain,
whether to medicate the pain
whether to medicate the pain.

It’d be okay.
The rocks in the pipe look like gems.
The body is always breathing,
in the same way waves find the shore.



Joseph Franklin

Poet; Quadriplegic; Rust Belt; Zen; Zazen; Pop Culture;