Contingent Faculties

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Midmorning abeam, abuzz, aubade about
walking our old block, applauding the view
that Yonkers is fair facsimile of my twenties. I can’t.
I can’t unthink pariah dogs queuing on rain’s garnet,
canines bared like tracer bullets at the street – nothing new
about collaborating with synecdoche of oneself.
The past. I could touch it almost, open
the day like a devotional book, work its clasp like
a dog’s flews and stare down its gullet, gasp
into living dark. Wycliffe called it
vtmer derknessis in St. Matthew’s account
of the healing at Capernaum (the desperate centurion
with his palsied son), translating Christ’s address as Parable of the Weeds.
Ther schal be wepying and gryntyng of teeth.
My mind works through this forecast of tears
and how it was ten years before I first came to New York
that I last took the bus from Echo Industrial Park,
believing it possible, then, to be reborn as morning
is, shedding night’s clothes at the close of shift.
Now I dog the blunting of an uncertain future
at midcareer. Health to the new bosses, sure.
As Christ sat at meat in Matthew’s house,
loud as a beaten dog, perhaps my namesake knew
the thousand ways to be shameless in a small town.
Perhaps knew that for small men, leaving leaves
nothing to choose between living & the life.


Matthew Carey Salyer is the author of a chapbook, Lambkin, and two collections, Ravage & Snare (2019) and Probation (forthcoming). His worked appears in journals such as Narrative, The Scores, Poetry Northwest, Southword, Beloit, The Common, Hunger Mountain, and others. He has twice been a finalist for the Iowa Review Prize in Poetry, a semifinalist for the Brittingham and Pollak Prizes in Poetry, and the Pushcart Prize. He works as an associate professor of literature at West Point and a bouncer in the Bronx.

NOVUS Literary and
Arts Journal
Lebanon, TN