Misplaced Tension–Jeff Burt

Misplaced Tension


We go to the loose fields

where the barbed wire pings

from sun warming the staples

that hold it too taut,

a misplaced tension

amid wild parsnips

and plump blue barley,

waxworks wrapped

around fenceposts

like children clinging

to their mother’s legs.


The spring pools

dry as summer gathers,

the rebellious cow chews

the few thistles

still tender while her mates

look, look, and look,

any evidence of intelligence

internal. I can’t rest

here, not that it’s an urban

blood that runs in me.

I’ve got the restless leg,

the one that bounces

beneath the kitchen table,

that rubs the back

of the theatre chair,

that seizes up between sheets

and cramps in midnight air,

the one you say is an indication

that I’ll leave you, the one

that’s been there thirty years.

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