Poetry Friday: Change

Oct 23, 2020

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.

Credit Shutterstock


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.