My Tremor, a poem by Michael Channing

My Tremor

by Michael Channing

i've developed a tremor
a multiple-times-a-minute unflagging reminder that
all is not well
some genetic gear slipped its strand
announcing my decline
do i seem absurd
do i look obscene
my fist pistoning at random in the national gesture
i slide from the ridiculous to the dire
hyper aware of the swing of my arms
the cadence of my lungs
every misstep or slip of the tongue
a new harbinger of my nearing end
you did this to me, my tremor
you put the taste of dread in every breath
monogrammed the mark of doubt on every shirt

trickery dickory dime
the mouse ran up my spine
my spine collapsed
the mouse perhaps
is having a better time

i come to rest and you're in my sleeve
are you an alarm unwinding
in the gnawing guts of a clock
are you hailing a black taxi
to drag me to pieces
over the the busted springs of my dreams
if i breathe and let you sink
lie flat against the bone
i can almost believe in your absence
and with a fearless tongue talk of tomorrow
till you whip like a headless snake
tighten my breathing and change the shape of my heart

red rover red rover
i‘ll soon knock you over
i taught your wife fear
and i’ll teach your daughter

we need to talk about the future
she said
we may have to move
to a smaller house
with no stairs no steps
when you can’t work
when you can’t walk
when you start to fall i don’t
want our daughter to see that
you might forget who we are
you might not be able to talk
or smile or laugh
or finish this poem
what am i going to do
when you can’t
i’m sorry
she said
i’ll let you finish your cereal in peace
i dumped the soggy mess down the sink

Gentle, Decent, and Short

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Chokes and Warbles
Now Available

Chokes and Warbles, a collection of essays and poems by Michael Channing

February 28, 2019