J. Archer Avary

What is the Light

marooned on this throwback rock
amongst swaying wheat-field waves of lavender
alveoli tickled by these purifying vapours
toxic city fumes exchanged for sweet pastels
buoyant in cool chemical comfort

if the membrane is a metaphor then what is the light?

my eyes observe this world in miniature
its denizens compelled by the instinctual whip
living industriously they grope and fondle
bombastic displays of incandescent vulgarity
will to live is the strongest motivation

if the window is also a mirror then what is the light?

the burdensome illusion of meaning
its reflection implies an impenetrable clarity
but freedom is imprisonment in this hideous Fun House
our distorted perceptions of work and value
the difference in being alive and trying not to die


One Leg to Stand On

the seagull seeks no sympathy
a hardscrabble existence becomes it
the seagull seeks easy nourishment
scraps of bread or discarded chips
wise to the ways of lunch break takers
it circles until it sees what it's after
the reflection of the midday sun off
the poet's foil-wrapped sandwich

there's no sympathy for the seagull
the poet knows & loathes its motivation
the seagull trains one eye on the harbour
the other eye on the sandwich prize
what the poet seeks is the unattainable
the intangible imagery that reveals hidden
truths in the mundane rhythms of life
a spark of inspiration or a guiding star

the seagull is a desperate optimist only
concerned with what's in the poet's hand
the poet is oblivious to what is obviously
the tortured protagonist of a future work
not noticing its withered & mangled leg
the useless appendage dangling limply
the seagull is what the poet seeks but he
doesn't know it, he finishes his sandwich

the seagull seeks no sympathy &
the poet misses the metaphor of the moment
a better poet might say something like this:
the seagull accepts its handicap with dignity
life is challenging enough in the best of times
death comes for even the strongest among us
so ride the currents where they take you
one leg to stand on is better than no leg at all


J. Archer Avary (he/him) is a former journalist and champion lionfish hunter. His work has appeared/is forthcoming in Stay Journal, The Remnant Archive, Melbourne Culture Corner, Rejection Letters and elsewhere. Born in Albuquerque, NM, J. Archer lived in several US cities including Omaha, NE and Atlanta, GA before leaving the states for the Cayman Islands in 2014. He quit journalism last year to focus on poetry and prose, and now lives on a tiny island in the English Channel with his wife. Twitter: @j_archer_avary