“Night Polo” by Caley O’Dwyer

Does time make us crazy 
or is it something else? 
I see myself but back away. 
I want to know what life is, 
but only gain the subtle topping, 
cosmic merengue dissolving 
on the tongue. Something 
catches in the sieve. There is 
a carefulness I can’t shake.
As though I could 
check and turn away 
from pain. But life puts
its hands inside our bodies
and leaves us blinking, 
reforming. Terror
enlightens, but so does doubt, 
the tenderness of it. Strong
pain can kill, and I know
I’m looking it in the face
when I get down on myself. 
Isn’t there a nicer way to be?
It’s hard to take shape
all the time. Beyond 
the sovereign July 
I came to life in, 
I’m playing polo in a dark field. 
The Pleiades shimmer down,
ticking off Orion’s shield.
On what can I depend?
Telescopic laughter sounds 
far away where gravitation rends. 
The sky tilts 
its head to hear 
whatever signal night can send. 
The clouds are all ears.
Wayward, I listen as they bend,     
drifting beneath the gleam of Mars 
into the hand of darker years.

Caley O’Dwyer’s poems have appeared in AMERICAN POETRY REVIEW, ALASKA QUARTERLY REVIEW, PRAIRIE SCHOONER, CREAM CITY REVIEW, ZOCALO PUBLIC SQUARE and other venues. He is a three-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize and has received the Academy of American Poets University Prize, as well as a Helene Wurlitzer grant for poetry. A painter and psychotherapist in private practice, Caley teaches creative writing and clinical psychology at Antioch University Los Angeles. His first book, FULL NOVA, was published by Orchises Press in 2001. Other examples of his work can be found at caleyodwyer.com

Author photo courtesy of Audrey Mandelbaum.

Featured Photo by Milan Ihl on Unsplash