Poetry: Selections from Scott F. Parker

bare arms

some people look away
when the needle goes in.
they always invite you 
to visit your happy place.
i like to watch. sometimes
i almost convince myself
that i can hear my vein puncture 
before the tube goes red.
and then the squeezing
and the saying i'm okay
and the classic rock playing
and chit chat with the phlebotomist
and the word phlebotomist
and time measured in volume.
don't think i'm a good person.
years ago, a friend and i
took regular trips together
"to bleed." we never talked 
about why but after every appointment
we scheduled one more.
what if i'm a mystery to myself
and what i want is for the mystery
to be drained dry or for the bond
of us to be literal like blood is literal?
i wouldn't call it a sacrifice
more like a practice that
according to the app on my phone
i've attended fifty-seven times.
my next appointment will be on halloween.
later that night i will dress as a skeleton
the same skeleton i have been before
and will be again soon enough.

Family Reunion

Brother and sister together again,
both of us stiff now with injury and age,
but running still, or something like it.
We would be unrecognizable 
to our younger, swifter selves,
who wouldn't look back if they could.
Fine for them, and fine for us
back here where everything is 
as it is supposed to be, where we are 
keeping the steady pace of decline.

when it speaks to me

the styrofoam halloween skull
lying by the side of the crib
in my younger son's room
i always forget it's a toy
as we’re saying goodnight
and i see it there, lifelike
when it speaks to me—
i kiss my son on the forehead
loving the reality of him
and quietly i whisper
to the skull, assuring us both
that i recognize the voice

creepy life

with no trees
and no rain
to water the trees
that don’t grow
this close to the sun 
smiling stupidly
the light
that sees us so
far from home

Scott F. Parker is the author of How Big the Bigness Is: Oregon Essays and the editor of Conversations with Joan Didion, among other books. He teaches writing at Montana State University.