Crying on the Floor and Other Ways to Get Through It

Two sonnets by debut poet Elliott Vanskike

Miniature golf course

Crying on the Floor and Other Ways to Get Through It

Sitting on the Floor with Your Back Against an Interior Door Frame, Sobbing

The trick is to not stand up, grab the molding on each side with both hands
And drive the top of your head into the door frame as hard as you can
Like the time in the kitchen of that two-bedroom apartment in Iowa
When you staggered and saw cobalt blobs floating when you blinked your eyes.

It also helps if you arrange the eggs in the large carton from Costco
Into shifting symmetrical chevrons as you remove them to
Crack and fry for breakfasts or hard-boil for the children’s lunches
Because by ordering the small things you can the larger pain expunge.
The carrion smell and the laundry room full of fat blowflies crowding the window
Make you wish the buzzing in the wall was like the time you were pregnant with the twins
And you kept saying, “Do you hear it? Can’t you hear it? The wall is alive.”
And no one believed you, but with your ear to the wall you could hear the thrumming hive. 
This knife isn’t sharp enough. It skids off the onion 
And rasps along your thumbnail, making notches but not drawing blood.

A Little Song of Mini-Golf

Grandpa is taking his time, reading the break
On the dull AstroTurf of Hole 8, The Treasure Chest,
At the rain-soaked Pirate’s Cove Putt-Putt. Barely awake,
I pause at the light and watch as he squats, squints, and does his best
To show he’s having fun with his grandkids 
And not show that he really wants to birdie this hole.

We landed last night in this spring break town in winter amid
A storm surge that forced seawater from manholes
And wind that whipped and stung our faces with sand.
Now, in strained morning light, the boardwalk, the sky, 
The beach, and the ocean converge and vanish. 
Cold rain pelts the shore again. Everyone scatters but I stay
To watch a lone wetsuited surfer way beyond the waves
Paddling out into the gray and pulsing blankness.

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