Transcribing a State of Reflection

by Matthew D. Rowe

I’m tired of being vulnerable,

Too soft to be vulnerable.

I’m tired of not being gullible,

Too logical to be gullible.


I’m tired of being alone,

Doing the dishes dance

With one bowl,

One plate,

A fork, spoon, chopsticks,

Colander on occasion,

Sometimes a boiling pot.

I can cook Wilfred Owen’s unwilling armies

Mashed potatoes,

Chicken stir-fry,

Grits in wok if you want,

Battle food!


But I don’t,

Because it’s only me.

I have two bowls, four plates,

Countless cutlery, sharp bread knives,

Tupperware enough to build an igloo that’ll outlast mankind.

These legs could dance all night long

With soap, sponge, and soggy noodles.

Salsa, tango, slow romantic step,

1, 2, 3, turn

5, 6, 7, squeeze, excrete,

Drain sink.


I’m tired,

Of climbing ladder no follower,

Empty, cold and stale sheets,

Pillowcases smelling of rank, greasy face,

Flaky scalp,

One all too familiar.


I’m tired,

Of waking up hugging self,

Holding phallus erect & dry.

Cradling Leaves and Cosmopolitan Greetings like infants.

Ought to dance with them in sink.

Put it next to bread knife,

Make for good company,

A dance or two at least.


I’m tired,

Of the strangers occupying the corners,

Spies, narcs, cowards.

Trained not to spill,

I’ll show you,

I’ll squash you!

Then I get to sympathize, at least.

And at least I have another mess to clean,

A different dance.


Spies, narcs, cowards,

Keep being so.

I need you to keep me sane.

You’re the ones I count on,

To make messes of the corners,

The deep, dark places no man dares explore.


You teach me new things.

You keep me tired.

You keep me vulnerable.

It doesn’t translate,

But you do your best.

I tell myself you won’t come back.

Convinced I am,

I hate you for it.


But then,

Then you culprit-spy-narcissist-coward-patron,

You come back.



Just as patient.

You keep me on my toes,

And my napkin surplus plentiful.

In the corners & underneaths you occupy,

I love you there.


But when you peek those weary heads about,

Spy while I’m dancing,

Feeding tired ink-blot remnants of the brave,

Conspiring against the impenetrable past

I feel you.

I get nervous, I don’t like you staring,

Mind your own business,

Watch the news or something,

Gang of Six jargon-spittle-back-and-forth,

Babykillers glorified, let off hook, reality show to come,

Check your stocks,

I’m dancing!


And I have to kill you there.

I kill you to be in charge.

I kill you,

Because I’m tired of being vulnerable,

Too soft to be vulnerable.

Because I’m not gullible,

Too logical to be gullible.


What then,

Can I be?

But a solo dancer.