Jared Salyers

Canoeing with Exes

A biography drags itself to the water

And remembers the violence of being spat out

Your father still a soaked mystery

Nudging us across a green current

You have been with me here before

A sudden heaven might wait in a day

That unfolds itself out of low fog

The creek is always the first way

Old hurt is found then forgotten

And we paddle in our fanged story

Until the moment is unrecognizable

And the first gift of the water

Is the last secret mouth we know

A quick current under a felled oak

Swallows us in watercolor

Sucks us into green amnesia

We come to know true mud

On a hard unsentimental bed

Where memory skins its knees

When we emerge on a far side

The canoe is a scarred wreck

Trembling and nowhere near our bodies

Moving with some familiar motion

That cannot turn back for the world

Losing the Fuzz

My father said it’s time
Hot razor hot sink ready
I came shirtless before him
His hands on my cheek
Hard leather through lather
Covering over the country
Of my young chin
The sound of that stropping
A sharp thinness in a basin
Bracing me he yanked down
The rough scrape leaving
More than fuzz floating in water
When it was over
He handed me a fresh hot towel
And left without words
The fog on the mirror
Took my face in abstraction
But the towel told me
For the first time touched to skin
That the whole world was raw

Alternative Country

We are half in the manner of a father
What has dove down this deep only comes
From a bottle or from a moon
Rising with a bad act on its mind
Or from the soundtrack of that hollow look
A Dobro or a lapful of pedal steel
That might half tell the story
Of how lovers’ graves and what they carry
Were lifted out of us like prayer
In the last chance at a backwoods hymn
We covered the mirrors with black bags
And drowned our bottles in our names
To keep our reflections from growing old
What we saw in a wet amber month was
We are half in the manner of the past
A low-fi boot firmly planted
In yesterday’s soaked low moan
And sneaking out the back at dark
To light out to a gray country
We ride wearing a child’s mask
Pregnant with all we didn’t know
Like how the word ‘stay’ haunted the house
Or the way a night can only dive
Down into its own tired myth