A Runny Nose in January by Kyle Torke


Love is the loose elevator cable, a hibernating bear,

A juggler with fire torches, a blister before the skin rises

With pus, a leaky shock on a heavy truck going downhill,

A shovel before the hole’s been dug or the seeds planted,

A heart monitor without any sound, a juggler with fire

Torches and no matches, a piano without a bench,

A drawer of silverware, a scuba diver, a train in the yard,

Waiting for the switchman, a subpoena for parking tickets,

All the buttons on the elevator lit at once, the itch

Inside the cast, two-sided tape, turned soil left fallow,

An armed robbery when one of the gang isn’t so sure,

A cool basement with stored wines, a trampoline

With squeaky springs, a cheese grader pulled across the scalp,

A pachinko machine that pays twice what you invest, a juggler

With fire torches performing in the barn, the surprising tickle

As the scalpel slides along the abdomen, the perfect golf swing

On the practice shot, cattails rupturing in the morning,

An entire jar of jelly beans, the mountains with the sun just below

The trees, the rivers and the fish behind the big rock in the eddy

Where the line always gets tangled, riding a bicycle without hands,

Swimming in the ocean at night and feeling the brush of the unknown

Against your legs, discovering one warm night the stranger in the bed

Beside you is a juggler and you, you are the hatchet.




Kyle Torke teaches at The Colorado College and the United States Air Force Academy. He publishes in every major genre, and his screenplays have won awards. His most recent collection of short stories, "Tanning Season," and of poems, "Still in Soil," appeared in 2008 and 2009 from World Audience Publishers. When he's not working with students on their writing, interpretations of Shakespeare, or enjoyment of Anne Sexton, he's teaching his boys (Conrad and Coover) and girls (Ava and Liv) how to handle epic meter and wrestle alligators.