Two poems by Rick Marlatt

Rick Marlatt

Rick Marlatt

Rick Marlatt teaches English in Nebraska. He has English and Philosophy BAs and a Creative Writing MA from the University of Nebraska, and he is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of California Riverside. Marlatt is the author of one poetry collection, Firecracker Swallow, and his work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, most recently, Barnwood International Magazine, and Amarillo Bay. Marlatt performs as an actor, poet, and writer, most recently winning the University of Nebraska Sigma Tau Delta Short Fiction Slam.

First Move

Your first move isn't
to the coffee or bathroom
or open book like a tiny
roof on the kitchen table,
but to each window
in every room

to slide the glass upward
like the rising of song
the toss of a just-shed blouse
an electric lung vacuum 
of good air.

Now in the slow murmur
of livid darkness September 
rolls through our sheets, 
whips behind the sofa, 
runs like ivy up and down 
cool walls,

and your stretch, all ancient
and real, a golden sparrow
balled in each fist, the 
house dancing in a slow
quake on tiptoes to catch
the first move of the sun.
Beautiful morning,
is it not?




How to Potty Train Boys

First and foremost,
do it at night and outside,
a backyard is best,
don't fuss around with
miniature toilet seats
or aiming for cheerios,
introduce him to the night
where we're free to take 

the form we've always wanted. 
Where apple blossoms shoulder
up to sycamores and with help
from shadows and tiptoes
can almost see eye to eye,
fireflies, holding their green
breath so long they nearly burst, 
do their best to imitate the stars,
and he, pouring rainbow

curves over the easy grass,
realizes you're not that
much taller.
If you've timed things
right, it's fall and the tiny
lakes you fill rise up
like silver smoke or ghosts,
this will lead you into
a discussion on tradition. 

Keep it brief, leave the talking
to crickets and the locusts
who can't let go.
The moon, a pure white blaze,
will shower you with something
majestic: be prepared for this.
And later, when an old
midnight whisper pulls him
out of bed, bones snapping inside 

legs the stuff of corn dust, and on 
the slow trail of a willow leaf
or the crown of a ginger-smell breeze
you hear his sigh churn
through the darkness like a prayer,
you know you've done the job.