“Sinkholes and Volcanoes (Whichever Works)” by A.J. Huffman & April Salzano

I wish you volcanoes the size of Krakatau and just as fierce,
craters that appear dormant, enticing inclines for you to hike.
I wish them bubbling below the surface, deeper than you perceive,
exploding in rings of fire under your feet, the river of lava
carrying you away from the sea, your charred body finally found,
unrecognizable. Even tell-tale teeth melted into sand.

I wish you sinkholes the size of those in your conscience,
monstrous gaping maws that will swallow you, suck
you into the ground when your apologies fall
on unreceptive ears. When you have been caught
with your hand in something that looks nothing like a cookie
jar, when you have no place to hide, I wish its shadows to keep
you out of my sight, give you space to lick imaginary wounds.

I wish you volcanoes masquerading as lakes. You, landing
in a foreign country, hoping to explore something unique, find bathers
just like you, slowly melting in a molten Jacuzzi without warning.
I wish you taken by surprise, cooked from without, your last thoughts,
regret and remorse, a painful need to do it all over again just
when it’s too late.

I wish you sinkholes so deep you land in China.
Emerging muddy and covered in visibly appropriate slime,
maybe you will fare better in translation, lack of full comprehension
might help you convince strangers that you are not
an oversized reptile, hell bent on destruction. Though I bet
the smart ones will see you and run
screaming in whatever direction you aren’t going.

I wish you volcanoes with selective gatekeepers,
thin, tired mountain men with consciences, saving
those who deserve the chance to flee to village safety. I wish you chased
by rock and rivers thick as blood, left behind to perish in flames,
to choke on smoke as dense as the lies you have told
to get what you need at the expense of people who were only trying to help.

I wish you sinkholes black as midnight and just as transformational,
that final toll expelling your magic, revealing your distasteful beginning.
You will see me standing on solid ground looking down, holding contract
for wand’s retraction. Poof! Cheshire grin grows whiskers. Poof!
Surfer’s hair turns gritty, course, bursts into patches of non-descript gray.
Poof! Your tail is showing. Poof! Disease-infested rat is all that is left.
Proof. I will not be surprised.

I wish myself a volcano to burn the last of your prints from my body,
my peaks and valleys filled with lava that petrifies
into smooth stone. I will watch your contamination rise from my mouth,
exhaled dioxides released to the sky, projected high but weighted
with gravity, landing sterile in the farthest corner
of a country undiscovered and cruel.

I wish myself a sinkhole to swallow memory. I will fill it
on my knees, finger down my throat. I will expel you, propel you,
vomit for the gorge. I will not move until you are gone, every drop,
every bit, every lingering odor. I will watch you slide down the sides,
refuse to listen to final pleas, screams, tears turned on in desperation,
panic. I will smile, find comfort in the feel of shovel against my hands,
endure the months of labor necessary to erase the last of your tracks.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA.J. Huffman has published five solo chapbooks and one joint chapbook through various small presses.  Her sixth solo chapbook will be published in October by Writing Knights Press.  She is a Pushcart Prize nominee, and the winner of the 2012 Promise of Light Haiku Contest.  Her poetry, fiction, and haiku have appeared in hundreds of national and international journals, including Labletter, The James Dickey Review, Bone Orchard, EgoPHobia, Kritya, and Offerta Speciale, in which her work appeared in both English and Italian translation.  She is also the founding editor of Kind of a Hurricane Press.  www.kindofahurricanepress.com In addition to their solo work, A.J. and April have been writing joint poetry for over a year.  They have co-authored a chapbook, Once Upon a Time, that is currently available for download at Barometric Pressures Author Series.


April Salzano Head ShotApril Salzano teaches college writing in Pennsylvania and is working on her first (several) poetry collections and an autobiographical work on raising a child with Autism. Her work has appeared in Poetry Salzburg, Pyrokinection, Convergence, Ascent Aspirations, Deadsnakes, The Rainbow Rose, The Camel Saloon and other online and print journals and is forthcoming in Inclement, Poetry Quarterly, Bluestem and Rattle. In addition to their solo work, A.J. and April have been writing joint poetry for over a year.  They have co-authored a chapbook, Once Upon a Time, that is currently available for download at Barometric Pressures Author Series.

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