Two Poems
Ryan J. Eilbeck



On The RD

I never liked On The Road.
haven’t read it-
Not even the Wiki page.
But I will tell you about it,
like Cliff’s Notes (™?) minus more.
Some boys get in a car.
Their penises throb the whole ride
so they
throw them wildly (not surprisingly) to the wind
with consequence like a gas station in the rearview mirror.
They see America.
It’s different than TV and
different than their town.
It’s uglier/more beautiful/arguable/ponder-able
quite large,
like a buffet;
you’ll want more than you can have
you’ll take more than your share
you may leave sick
too much, never again
may come back
though Canada is an option.
There are drugs-
of course there are drugs,
maximum life calls for certain amounts of drugs.
Alcohol is there too, I’m sure
but it wears off you know?
You can’t drink like you’re 19 and get away with it forever
Music, yes.
The corrupting kind that pockets the youth
and runs them right to hell,
right in rhythm
but never in line.
Someone put cover and spine to the scroll,
someone said NOVEL
like a library might file it domestically after Kerner.
Clerical collars were soiled,
drop-outs dropped out-er,
opiates showed up in the office,
jazz was new math,
school desk legs sprouted wheels
and kids drove them off while fucking.
I hear it was a good time
but my high school didn’t assign.


If I Must (Then I Must Be)

Yours is the earth and everything that’s in it,
And–which is more–you’ll be a Man, my son!
        – If—, Rudyard Kipling

You are the grandson
and so, by way of life to life
you must qualify as a son too.
Have you run through the ribbon of 18?
Then a man you may be.
Named by the draft
or job applications;
by the God who classified the giver of the rib,
falling with all our weight.
A man, my son
and a grandson-
duty lives on your earth worn halo
like rust on the lawn mower blade.
Hands for the hammer, the steering wheel, certain weapons
remotes, the spread wings of newspaper, signatures and handshakes.
Today, they are to grip the smooth oak bar
on the side of Papa’s coffin.
I didn’t know I’d be called to the flank of his rest.
Called to lift, as a man
to carry,
to hoist and place.
A knot in the even number of ties, because I was,
showing my hard face in despair’s sport,
because I am.

So I was, a man.
Like a place to hide.
Like a pebble in the foot of a knight’s armor,
breezes blowing cold from the hollow torso
down through the corridor of legs.
I was the mask set to steel bravery
barely merciful, even to the sword.
The man was holding eighty years of life
lightened in the journey toward something eternal.
The man walked steady and did not cry.
I was there somewhere too,
tacked loosely to the shadow of it all,
trailing behind the cape,
the man.