Poet and activist Austin Davis returns to the airwaves for this week’s installment of Poetry Friday. Through the pandemic, he’s been writing a lot of poems about the inevitability - and discomfort - of change, and its effect on love, memory and loss. Today, Austin shares one of his new works from his latest collection of poetry.
Why I Stand on the Balcony And Watch the Taxis Pass By After You’re Asleep
12 was the year my family and I lived in a 2 story condo
that looked identical to all the 2 story condos on our street
except our driveway was colored with sidewalk chalk
and our garden hose was always pointed at a dog walker.
If it had rained the night before, the boat my little brother
and I built out of a plastic tub, a ball of string and 20 balloons
would be sitting on the sidewalk, ready to sail the backyard.
We believed in helium as if it was our religion.
Like the faith we had in the stories Granddad used to tell us
in the car ride before church, our balloons
popped the second we stepped into the boat.
We’d sink into the grassy lake and topple over laughing
and Mom would yell at us from her bedroom window.
She’d spray us down with the hose from the front porch
and we’d hop around and hide behind the bushes,
leaving an abstract portrait of muddy footprints around the front steps.
Feeling cold from the water, warm from the sun
and having a sore throat from laughing too much
is the closest thing I’ve ever experienced to feeling “sick”
in the same way kickflipping onto the park bench was “sick”
or stealing cough syrup and Sprite
from the drug store would one day become “sick.”
13 was the year I failed math, burned down a tree,
and Lawson broke my jaw for calling him insecure.
14 was the year Gabby and I learned how to kiss each other
by her pool, and in her bedroom closet, and in the community center
we snuck in to during a quiet midnight in October.
If I have kids, I’ll tell them to leave a window cracked an inch open today
if they ever want to re-discover a place they’ve been a million times tonight.
15 was the year I stole my Dad’s Yaris and ended up driving
off the road and down the hill of a nearby golf course
because I didn’t know how to drive stick
and I didn’t actually know how to drive. I owe my life to the fact
that YouTube has some wonderfully informative tutorial videos
and I got the car back in the garage by sunrise without any scratches.
16 was the year I learned that a group of cats is called a glaring
and a sentence finished by a question mark
followed by an exclamation point is called an interrobang.
17 was the year I learned that women don’t particularly care
about hearing of your knowledge on glarings or interrobangs,
especially while you’re making out in the back of a Corolla.
18 was the year I told Granddad a joke over the phone
about two guys walking into a bar where one guy says “ouch”
and the other guy says “I didn’t see it either”
and the next afternoon Granddad’s heart gave out.
If I was still a kid, I’d tell myself he just laughed too hard
but now I keep wondering if the apple
was certain it fell from the sky and not the tree,
would it believe the stomach is heaven?
Poetry Friday is produced by KNAU's Gillian Ferris. If you have an idea for a segment, drop her an email at Gillian.Ferris@nau.edu.