Three Poems by Caleb Nelson

Caleb Nelson

Caleb Nelson

Caleb Nelson is a second year PhD student studying poetry at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Currently, he serves as the managing editor for cream city review. His work has appeared in Crab Fat Literary Magazine, Stoneboat, Prick of the Spindle, Red Savina Review, Storm Cellar, Josephine Quarterly, Gravel, Into the Void, Split Rock Review, and Cardinal Sins.

The End of History

I, very nearly sad, came closest to a frozen heart.
You kept me in a coffin and I didn’t have a mouth.
For all these transgressions, nobody moved
a muscle. Eventually, nobody had a job.
Everybody ate from the fish-tank with snorkels. 
One day, you noticed the purpling of my swollen
tongue. I didn’t say anything. I didn’t wear any shoes.
Still, that winter the house was warm, the furnace
burned in a fit of communal happiness, which
was often impossible. You reassured me I had
survived the worst of history and I was so happy
I started dancing like a rhino in a pile of yeast.

you enjoy me in the aftermath
like an invisible spoon
we are as sad as deflated balloons
i admire your magenta lips the skin
of some parabolic plum which reminds
me i’d like some of your delicious knees
is what is the matter with corduroy
pants in a tank of fossilized snake eyes i
no longer recall how long i sang to those
remains before you press play
hand over the metallic string if i didn’t
know any better i’d say you’re flossing
with bad medicine like a parachute
stuffed inside a sleeve which is to say
i started counting all the little piles
of seafoam you left for me as a guide
a plan made in solitude
for everything that’s on its way
You hear me make extreme statements like
“oven mitts are anathema” and “who wears
a fedora to a bowling alley?” Nevertheless,
I take every chance I get to throw inky darts
at the balloons in your head. Balloon-head.
Yesterday, I thought about credit scores,
the marketplace, etcetera, and so little
came to my mind I nearly thought each
part of my body was becoming a balloon.
Balloon-boy. Latex-boy. Polychloroprene-
boy. I felt stretched thin like yellow nylon
fabric. I felt that if I could stretch my body
around the entire world then somehow, I
could cure all this misery, all this boredom.