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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, February 4, 2016.
About this Poem 

“In December of 2008, I was rear-ended at a stoplight by a sedan that the police report estimated was going 50-70 mph, based on the resulting damage. My brain shook in its case and though facets of my personality—particularly my sense of humor—remained intact, the following days, weeks, and months were marred by aphasia, vertigo, and anger, among other symptoms. To this day, what I find most remarkable about that experience is how I woke up one concussed morning and, without understanding what it meant, suddenly remembered that I was a poet.”
—Janine Joseph

Circuitry

I.

The rung wide
           receiver forgets why

he set his keys on the football field.
           Whose are they? he asks—a ringing

in his ear—while clenching
           the green. As if on the edge

of a pool, he tilts his head to drain
           water out of his canal.

It was like that, all the time,
           after. How many fingers?

he was asked, and not to tell
           a lie—it would mean his career.

It would mean recognizing you
           without your jacket when you

walked out of the room. It would mean
           you could say, Stay here

with me, and in his eyes
           could watch him come back.


II.

I spiral the parking lot, singing,
           It’s alright, I’m alright,

while I count the pole lights back
           to my car. I practice red, table, lamp

with a neuropsychologist and now
           I can tell you about how my brain

blew in the acceleration. I was in
           a locked position—the details

unbearably clear in the replay and, still,
           no one else heard me swallow

the impact. Bend at your hips
           from your two-point stance and, there,

the muffler is a finger wagging
           one one one inches from the ground.

The tire-less car rests on its crutch
           of blocks, the windows a crunch

of glass. Are you feeling the rush now
           as you look to me, your brain still

in your head—is it still in your head?
           Can you point for me where

it happens in the connection, where
           on the line the old equipment

resets itself and loops?
           Is what you say the truth?

Copyright © 2016 Janine Joseph. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2016 Janine Joseph. Used with permission of the author.

Janine Joseph

Janine Joseph

Janine Joseph is the author of Driving Without a License (Alice James Books, 2016).