Tohm Bakelas

a poem for you
twice a month  
i sometimes  
clean the house 
it’s not that i mind doing it, 
quite the opposite actually, 
i’m just not good at it 
sure, i can clean the dishes 
and put them all away 
in the right spots    
and i can vacuum the floors 
and stairs with my bissell #2288, 
sucking everything up  
but often i don’t want to  
because all that filth reminds me  
of some memory i have of you 
like last week, for instance,  
you laughed at a joke i told, 
and the sunlight shined 
so pretty off you’re teeth 
and out of the corner of my eye 
i saw a mountain of dead ants 
just laying there in dust  
beneath the radiator  
now in good conscience 
how could i clean something 
like that up? 
yogurt knife

parked in an empty lot,
i stir yogurt with a knife and
come up short on inspiration,
choking on the splinters of 
an american dream that 
never ever amounted 
to anything but pain

i only give to the world
what i want it to see,
the rest remains inside
locked away
no parole
no release

i finish the yogurt 
tossing the empty cup 
on the car floor,
shift into drive and 
head north

a bird shits on my windshield,
a smile forms on my face 

Tohm Bakelas is a social worker in a psychiatric hospital. He was born in New Jersey, resides there, and will die there. His poems have appeared in numerous journals, zines, and online publications. He has published 19 chapbooks and several collections of poetry, including The Ants Crawl In Circles (Whiskey City Press, 2022). He runs Between Shadows Press.
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