C.L. Bledsoe – Two Poems


Stop and Smell the Cake

Forty is a number that’s forgotten how to lie,
or maybe it’s just tired of keeping track
of words that mean nothing but fear,

that crumble when observed too closely.
If it takes more muscles to frown than to laugh,
why do you fault me my exercise regimen?

I’ve grown thin and yet, somehow, fat,
because what we take in may stay longer
than it nourishes. There’s time, sludging

down the slow hill, to shed the weight
of loss, to taste spring in the air, the lily
of the valley someone else nourished, and realize you,

you should’ve sown them. If only you’d taken
that moment, they’d have bloomed by now.
You were always allergic, you were so sure

you’d die long before anything could bloom, but look:
you’re not sniffling, now. There’s still time. Find
that wisteria, the jasmine some retiree planted

in their yard and steal a cutting. Plant your own.
Take its face into your hands, press yours close. Breathe.

Blues for Penthos

It’s hard to keep a decent
‘do when you’re always rending
your hair over some dead love.

The foul rug needs a vacuum,
but it’s Phobos turn and he
won’t come out of his bedroom.

The portentous crows need their
cages cleaned, but I’m busy
re-watching Hercules. If

I opened the blinds, I’d see
shuddering leaves, black branches
clinging to the dying trees

planted by the apartment
owners but never treated
for blight. Across the parking

lot, some old Titan hangs out
on his stoop, waiting for when
the kids get home from school so

he can watch them run, till
Limos calls them in for bread,
maybe a bowl of noodles,

if it’s the First. Aidos won’t
come outside anymore, but
I can see her move the blinds.

They’re doomed, all of them, to die
and suffer and die again.
I’m still waiting to hear back

from Olympus about that
receptionist job. Bennies
like you wouldn’t believe. Great

hours. Finally, I could
save up, get out of this shit
hole. Get my own temple. Live.


CL Bledsoe is the author of a dozen books, most recently the novel Man of Clay and the poetry collection Riceland. He lives in northern Virginia with his daughter. More at: clbledsoe.blogspot.com.