A Poem by Rex Wilder
Since I was locked up and the key dangled Like a body from each nurse’s neck, This gray matter has lost the privilege of shades And the world is black and white. Either I was fucked or it’s just a phase. Either you climb from the wreck Or you burn in the tangle of the metal. Only so many flames can fit in a forest, Have you ever thought about that? I was hit at 5, at 50, hated, emasculated, Locked in/out but low-grade, first-world, Not worth moving heaven and earth for And if I walked into the sea, the drowning Wouldn’t make waves. Abuse gets used Up, no matter how much hurt’s rained down. My wife used to spit On me so who needed tears? Hats off To Lady Saliva and the horse she rode in on. Whether I’ll be back is a matter of fate But where I’m going is so big and gorgeous There’s room enough to recover, Like the open road of summer When I was 18, like Georgia, wildflowers Bent at the waist like a retinue.
Rex Wilder was a misfit from the good old days whose mind finally forced the issue in 2018 — a nervous breakdown, hospital lockup, the full Sylvia Plath. Before and after that, three books of his have been published, and he has poems in TLS, Poetry Ireland, Poetry, Ploughshares, The New Criterion, The Nation, National Review, Yale Review, Harvard Review, and many anthologies, including the celebrated Together in a Sudden Strangeness from Knopf. This poem is from his new book, Faces Around a Room.