THE GRAVE YOUR AMBITION DIGS FOR ITSELF by Gabriel Welsch

THE GRAVE YOUR AMBITION DIGS FOR ITSELF
by Gabriel Welsch

The ridiculous dissatisfaction with good fortune
begins in shade, when every bit of luck pops up
like a harlequin jammed in a jack-in-the-box,
and the hue of the lip is wrong wrong wrong—
ignoring for the moment the creepy leer of clowns,
or the gut twist borne of a springed lurch, or
the clatter of the trap click and clack when it opens—
and though the arms of the clown spill forth
jasmine blossoms and jars of honey and—hey, why not?
even bags of Krugerrand—though the clown
bearing gifts wobbles on the end of a spring
that will tilt time after time toward you,
that lip is always there, garnet when it should
be ruby when it should be vermillion when
it should be crimson, and you can go on
like this, barnstorming the shades of meaning
in shades, arguing the hewn nature of hues,
noting the carat weight of gilding on every lily,
and no matter how you recognize the pathology,
complain through observation meant as objective
(by all rights, compared to others, you should be happy
with all you have), you know you not only lack
everything you think is yours, there are things
you do not yet know you want. The clown wants
your attention, that bell on his hat a mad clapper
of the proximate, and the spring keeps him right there,
eye level and leering, a St. Vitus dance over the grave
your ambition digs for itself. The last time
you picked him up, had the strength to deny
the lure of that crank on the side of his box,
and could place him out on the porch, the crows
came to have a look. You left his head out there,
in icy November, to glaze over, the bell muted
in its sheath of watery glass, and when the crows
pecked at his head and tore the collar from his neck,
he was brought down to size, nothing left
but a stump of neck impaled on a spring,
the dance lived in every tuft of breeze, and the neck
warmed every day there was sun, the rays
landing on the plastic skin, gold again, and warm
as if alive.


Gabriel Welsch is the author of four poetry collections, most recently The Four Horsepersons of a Disappointing Apocalypse (Steel Toe Books, 2013). His fiction and poetry has appeared in journals including Georgia Review, Southern Review, Harvard Review, and Missouri Review, on Verse Daily, and in Ted Kooser’s column, “American Life in Poetry.” Recent work appears in ThrushGulf CoastdecomP magazineRumble Fish Quarterly, Crab Orchard Review, and Moon City Review. He lives in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania with his family, works as vice president of strategic communications and marketing at Juniata College, and teaches occasionally at the Chautauqua Writer’s Center.

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