Gordon Kippola ~ Five Poems

Empty Bucket List

I heard a voice I nev­er saw.
“You’ve only got six months to go, so live.”
While walk­ing on a trash-strewn beach,
regret­ting those squan­dered years,
I built an urgent men­tal spreadsheet.

I liq­ui­dat­ed all my wealth, applied
for twen­ty-sev­en cred­it cards, began
to eat dessert for break­fast. Smoked
a ton of dope, stole a car; tried like hell
to keep myself from jail, which worked

except that week­end in Key West.
One hun­dred eighty times I watched the sun
go down and up. I thought enlightenment
might come; but no, it’s just the sun.
I climbed a moun­tain. Stupid clouds
obscured my view of beau­ty someone
told me I might find. I sought a man

I’d wronged and wronged him more.
I meant to say good­bye to those I loved;
but time drug on—I shrugged—tore up my list.
And then, I hate to say, I didn’t die.

Observing From Another Place

Circular plas­tic pressed against lips,
he reach­es for his iPhone
on the stand beside the plump chair
that leans back when the right but­ton gets pushed—
reclin­er, right, duh. Breathe in. Blink.
Concentrate. For no more than four seconds
a round­ed edge becomes odd.
am I hold­ing this thing,
and to what pur­pose? Cup floods back to him,
those mil­lions of life­time sips from vessels.
they’re made for that.


Left Hand’s More Limber, Neither Feels Right

It’s some­thing weird, but not pre­cise­ly pain,
this glitch with my fin­gers I first noticed,
well, could be six months back, or a few weeks,
a sort of semi-click­able pre-cramp.
It isn’t nor­mal or desired, and I hate it,
but at least it’s nov­el. It’s tedium
when peo­ple of a cer­tain age complain
about emerg­ing pat­terns of decay,
or so the younger man I was believed,
and maybe he was right. Still, left alone,
or close­ly mon­i­tored, our bod­ies fall
apart. Not one escapes. Don’t ask me why
I cat­a­log new groans from this machine,
I can’t explain what this might even mean.



All pos­si­bil­i­ties always exist.
Might this be raised to a sup­port­ing beam?
Certainly. Yes, but let’s try some­thing else:
teeter-tot­ter board low­ered to the ground,
and bal­ance is accom­plished, permanent
as any­one could wish.

Reaching sta­sis?

A bonus virtue, as if it needed
say­ing. The need for say­ing things? Reduced
to trick­les down the inside of a leg,
a bare­ly appar­ent tem­po­ral wet
requir­ing min­i­mal interaction
with nat­ur­al process­es, all failing:
each fail­ing in their only direction,
weight trans­ferred even­ly to brown­ing grass.


Almost Like Being

It becomes the ocean we float in,
hav­ing for­got­ten ten thou­sand times
we’ve noticed this before, kittens

nuz­zling for milk, then falling asleep,
our imma­ture eye­sight protected
from learn­ing too quick­ly. A toddler

tugs, with dan­ger­ous strength, at the gate
that delays his tum­ble down the stairs.


Following a career as a U.S. Army musi­cian, Gordon Kippola earned an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Tampa, and calls Bremerton, Washington home. His poet­ry has appeared in Rattle, Post Road Magazine, District Lit, The Main Street Rag, Southeast Missouri State University Press, and oth­er splen­did pub­li­ca­tions. Consistently poor at liv­ing any­where near the present moment, he writes to puz­zle out what might have hap­pened, and/or if any­thing he remem­bers approach­es reality.