THE LEMON CAR LOT                                   

Polychromatic Prayer
Franklin K.R. Cline

East Coast Prayer
for Olivia, from second rehab, with a line from Whitman

New York trembles across the Hudson tonite, like
the lights are the shine of your wide eyes
or the pretty sparkle of the cheap ornaments
dangling from the fake spruce
on the Christmas tree I wonder if you’ve taken
down since I left for New Jersey. Without me,
what am I? Creator, please tweezer this splinter
tinily bothering the globe’s green & blue fingers,
if You deem You need to. My life’s big fight
takes places near hot tea
Long Island. Wind whispers turn
to fog, whisps the smoke from my Natural American Spirit out across
the colonial townhomes, the streetparked cars all slight
shades of a similar hue, the sky & sidewalk
variated grays. The snow’s glint recalls
the dew on the uncut hair of grass, the unkempt hair
of graves that is my brain. I make it
sober to breakfast, then nine, then noon, then five, then bedtime
for now. The loop of your handwriting swoops
around my wound-up mind, hovering before
my eyes’ curtains. Guilt burrows beneath my tongue
& drips down into the lungs I use
to cough & exhale & pray the soft Western wind
floats a small particle of me to you. 


Prayer: And It Was All

yellow. This keg is tapped, running
dry. Airy scabs. Four walls always,
thereto either keep ‘em out or contain
me or both or neither. Quit it
with that byzantine logic. Life’s too
short to ever bet the under, angel. Hover over
it but be beneath It, feel me? Just don’t
pull the trigger. My hands are not
shaking, see? Tingling as I smash the gas
to make it
through the yellow
traffic light.
If I had
a bird,
I’d never
close its’ cage. It’ll scout
the rooms out, scoot
through the air
as it pleases. 


Polychromatic Prayer

my body is a construction
zone, trail mark traffic cones,
pedestrians walking around and under, mad
at the impediment to the street
ive clumsily become. soon
theyll appreciate the dearth
of potholes, the new sewage
pipes, cracks on the sidewalk filled up. put up
with the if of me and itll be better.

the city should plant more flowers:
big parking lots empty, save
one or two cars. something inside
us blooms polychromatic shine. yeah,
easy for anyone to say. i wonder if the ground hurts
when plants spring from it. really i dont
look around enough to confidently state the quality
of my surroundings. mostly
i just look down
at my dirty shoes, my mouth
pavlovian at the thought of fast food.

the most obvious joke is the best, says
this crowdpleaser, hungry for laughter
alongside the cars and flowers.


these poems were really never meant to be seen outside of a small audience of myself, my partner olivia, and a few friends i’d made inside of a rehab facility during my stay there. they were written in four days, one poem each, as i would arise around 5:30 am to take my meds, drink my morning tea, get to the showers while the water was still hot, and watch a couple of my fellow inhabitants work out. they’d laugh and say i was working out my brain as they sparred and listened to sublime and various ragey music by men. i would have a draft completed before the first smoke break before breakfast, work on a second draft during our "movie time" after lunch, and finish out the day with a third one. i would call olivia during our brief alloted phone time -- three times a week for about 8-10 mins apiece -- and read them to her. the poems are about loss and memory and reconstruction and hope. theyre softer and clearer than much of my other stuff; quick and clean and light. they were written by hand in a notebook, something i hadn’t done since i was writing poems in high school, twenty years ago.

i suppose i was drawn to publishing them because i have some connection to them; reading them now is almost like looking at photographs or home movies. there are some nice moments, but they provided great relief at a time that was one of my worst, physically mentally emotionally. i didnt have many books -- nothing really compelling in our miniscule library, but my mother sent me a copy of o'hara's lunch poems -- still one of my favorite books of all time -- that i left there, and i was devouring mark lewisohn's massive tune in, the 1000+ page first book in a promised three volume set that portends to be the most complete biography of the beatles thus far. so i was reading about the young beatles carousing and drinking and popping prellies and womanizing and listening to records and being cultural sponges and thinking a lot about youth and opportunity and possibility. i also had a little tape player and four tapes: the white album (on two cassettes), sticky fingers, and being there, which i played over and over. we had tv, too, so i watched espn a lot, and the simpsons when it was on.

gerald vizenor's term survivance, a portmanteau of survival and resistance, permeates my thoughts and my art, but i dont want this to be another alcoholic native story. my survival is resistance. plus, louis c. jordan's poem the fine print on the label of a bottle of non-alcohol beer from this book the vortex of dreams covers all that beautifully.

the poems are a little fold on a page in a chapter in whatever book my life is, marking a relevant passage. i’m clean now, and happy in a way that feels strange and right. i suppose if anything i hope these poems, despite their flaws and cracks, show the ways in which poetry is medicine.


Franklin K.R. Cline is the author of So What and The Beatles’ Second Album, both available via Vegetarian Alcoholic Press. An enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation, he lives in Kansas City with Six and Olivia.