Apnea, Gerald Yelle

They slicked their hair in their mothers’ tears and when their mothers told them wash behind your ears, they’d pretend their mothers said rears –as in friends, Romans, countrymen. Their mothers said yeah, of course, be sure to wash there too. Because they anticipate the jokes –they know their sons better than their sons know themselves. Sons who never could resist the chance to twist their mothers’ words. They did the same to us, who used to be their friends. We laughed at their jokes until we became the butt of them –when they said they had a special aversion to what they called our low energy. After that we forgot them, like mundane dreams. We pass them on the highway now, oblivious to their problems, their aspirations. We used to think they had no more sense than countrymen on steroids. The songs they write about riding to the top of the food chain because the time is ripe and sleep draws near and the legs get put on them and put on them and they think of it and think of it and soon they won’t have to think of it anymore. And soon we won’t be able to either. So, what does it mean? The end is near. No time to sort the silver and put away the dishes. We’ll wish there were different ways to dig up the truth. Like someone had to dig up Monument Valley and the Twin Towers. Will there be anyone around to help us? We’ll wish we had some of their voices at least. We’ll wish the mumps and measles hadn’t been so sleep inducing.


Gerald Yelle’s books are The Holyoke Diaries (Future Cycle Press), Evolution for the Hell of It (Red Dashboard Press), Mark My Word and the New World Order (The Pedestrian Press), and Restaurant in Walking Distance and Everything (Cawing Crow Press). He teaches high school English and is a member of the Florence (MA) Poets Society. 

Gerald Yelle recommends “The Book” by Ben Loory.

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