The Music Teacher
Her rigor mortis put everyone on edge.
When Allen and I left her wake,
things came to blows between us
over a song by this star I happened to know
whose roadie just about beat me up one time
for filming without permission.
Allen just loved that hit single.
Couldn’t stand my flippant remarks.
It’s been years.
I wonder if he still sits on his porch all day
waving his pretend conductor’s baton
at the middle schoolers of Glenwood Landing.
Cameramen rushing in. A summer with its relativistic time.
A standard not followed. A grab bag not full of books.
A velvety melody to calibrate constellations.
The doll with nothing but a record of breasts.
The heavily-taxed forest. A yeti at the screen door.
A young-age fear and the cockroaches used to fight it.
Friendship coexisting, friendship existing,
friendship pretending to spill espresso over its head.
The classic car spitting out humpty dumpties.
The dreamers interrupted by lyme disease.
The exploded fish coming back to explode again.
The unquestionable chasm of a second love.
The no-longer-saintly gambler. The implausible conductor.
The worst chocolate ever filmed. The tree no one mourned.
The rampant adultery of stray dogs.
The exterminator killing with kindness.
The cowboy negotiating pollution. The editor of an elusive lake.
The satellite. The posthumous porch-sitter.
An embalming gone wrong. An excited compass.
The invisible lock in the double door of all ears.
The sublime, sanctified snow scrubber
from the Stop & Shop where you briefly worked
cleans my car so nicely after the storms.
You work a full-time job developing memes
to combat global warming deniers.
I hear the ocean currents
will shift as the planet warms
and winters will grow only
colder in this part of the country.
Every time I brush the snow off my car,
another plastic thread falls out of the brush.
I gather them the way I used to
gather the loose hairs on the floor
after massaging your head.
Standing in the line-up,
you tilt one side of your mouth
down at the same angle raindrops trace
over Revere Beach
on an especially windy night.
You’re one of the foils.
The witness picks out the suspect.
A grin lights up your face
like the moon that comes out from behind the clouds
after a storm.
I call you to these line-ups
over and over
just to see that grin.
I can’t get it out of you any other way.
Born in Moscow, Russia, Anton Yakovlev studied filmmaking and poetry at Harvard University. He is the author of chapbooks Neptune Court (The Operating System, 2015) and The Ghost of Grant Wood (Finishing Line Press, 2015). His work is published or forthcoming in The New Yorker, Fulcrum, American Arts Quarterly, Measure, The Nervous Breakdown, The Raintown Review and elsewhere. He co-hosts the Carmine Street Metrics reading series in New York City. He has also directed several short films.