A Hammer Weighs Nothing at the Top of Its Arc

by | Apr 17, 2019 | Poetry

Not like some soldier, tugging half-hearted
at the spear he’d just buried inside an enemy’s
eye, looked up to see a cavalryman wearing
a bouquet of arrows in his chest, his fresh-
beheaded horse still cantering down
into the churned clots of red mud
and thought, centaur. That had to be
at least a decade later, a plow vaulting
the stack of bones into a sower’s path.
The activation of Three Gorges Dam cut
off so many rivers mid-sprint that the Earth’s
rotation slowed, however imperceptibly. So
we’ve been gifted .03 extra seconds – what
will we do with such largesse? I’m still
having that dream where my draft card comes
and I can’t find a lighter to save my life,
and that dream where I’m a shopping cart
left on the far side of the parking lot
watching my friends nestle in the vestibule,
all lined up inside each other, and I wake up
hungry. The fleck of red at the edge
of an egg yolk makes me more upset
than the collected years of slave labor
trapped in my tennis shoes, my cell
phone. I want to approach the speed of light
where it’s huddled in the corner and throw
my coat over its shoulders. I want
to be held like a bullet in ballistic gel.
Some languages lack past and future tense,
you have to get creative to express death
or again or we just, over the years, drifted
apart … similarly, I’ve tried to run
so fast the wind would have no choice
but to lift or obliterate me. Winter’s
been lit up by a barrage of false
springs—there are days so warm in January
I’m grateful for every oil spill that brought
us here. But winter comes back, and keeps
coming back, its flurries like a flock of pigeons
pecking expectantly at empty hands.
This poem won first prize in our 2019 Poetry Contest.

Photo used under CC.

About The Author


Josh Myers is from Heidelberg, Germany. His poems have appeared in Passages North, Missouri Review, Copper Nickel, Nashville Review, Washington Square Review, and elsewhere, and he has been featured at Poetry Daily. After receiving his MFA from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, he moved to Nashville with his wife, superpoet Jessica Lynn Suchon, and their dog, Gracie.