Wednesday Jun 19

ClineFranklin Franklin K.R. Cline’s poems have been featured in Banango Street, Cleaver, Matter, Word Riot, and elsewhere. He is an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation, a PhD candidate in English—Creative Writing at the University of Milwaukee-Wisconsin, a member of Woodland Pattern Book Center's Board of Directors, and the nonfiction editor of cream city review. He lives in Milwaukee with three cats and his wife, Rachel Kincaid.

Check Engine

The tomato plants
in the garden aren’t growing. I don’t

know what we did wrong. Maybe
they don’t get enough sun, there’s

a lot of weeds on the east and west
sides of the tomato plants. The other

plants on the other side of the garden
are doing great. Rachel cleaned up

her side of the closet and now
my side looks like shit. I am sleeping

better now that I drink
less. We’ve only

grown two tomatoes thus far and we suspect
the neighbors took one because now there’s only one

on the vine. It rained real nice
today. I touched the soil before I came in

from work and my finger slipped
into the earth, which reminded me of sex. I don’t have more sex

now that I drink less, which is not how it worked
five years ago. I have gotten more comfortable

with being in my underwear. I have gotten more comfortable
with being not afraid of dying. I am afraid of

right before I die. I drink more water
than I ever have before. I am reducing

my carbon footprint. I have decided
I want to be cremated and to give up my organs. I knew a girl

in college who died young and before she died
she raised a bunch of money online

and is now cryogenically frozen. Maybe death is how best to get
in touch with my body, with nature. I need

to sit in the garden,
not drinking. I feel so

uncertain, generally. I need to get my guitar restrung. I need to dust. Vincent Nageak III and Rayman Gassman, the two documented Indians killed by police in 2016 as of the writing of this poem. Vincent had a shotgun in Alaska, Gassman; Rayman unarmed in Rosebud, South Dakota. Both deaths classified as by gunshot. Some damn squirrel keeps running around our walls. I’m glad it’s found a home but I don’t much care for all the commotion, especially when I’m trying to not drink and watch baseball and not be in the garden. The neighbors mowed off most of my watermelon. Does watermelon life begin at watermelon conception, the planting, the turning of the compost, the heat stink from when the lid fell off of the compost bucket when I was taking it downstairs? Shit, it all devolves into argument. I used to be much louder than I am now. Old pictures of me not dead in graffitied basements, beer in hand, teeth exposed. The cats hide when it rains. Every day, death. So, hey: every everything, every every day. It feels good to be sweeping. We bought a new TV and I, distracted, lost its remote the next day. It doesn’t have any buttons so it just sits on the designated TV table bookended by speakers waiting. Iliana once said into her vodka the I was a big dick going at her face, every time she read a poem, then she won a poetry prize.

We live in a thieved country run by thieves and I love buffalo wings.

We have agreed to never call the cops. The CHECK ENGINE light
has been on in our car for about
a week now. On in? I think so. I need

to get back in touch
with my body,
with nature. I walked

in the grass barefoot
but it just made
my feet itchy. 

Wont Get Fooled Again

Having emptied as much out of the world as I can stand I
slump inwards, selfish genes, a non-taken-down

Christmas tree, Rachel’s snores a room over
rendered inaudible, I’m so lonesome

every day the Everly Brothers sing in fluffed tandem effectively
defeating their own argument, what two people

ever lonesome together at once, cold
across America, -25° wind chill or thereabouts outside, the community

meeting at All People’s Church on Clarke postponed til next week ok with me,
I don’t trust systems of power I can’t control, they’re knocking

on the latenight doors of protest organizers, waking
their mothers, all hours, the squirrels living

in our gutters are getting louder, maybe they’re
laughing, bad earth, the Thunder lost

to Cleveland, LeBron got hot in the fourth and nailed
back-to-back-threes that hollowed Morrow then a nasty pull-up long-two fade, I don’t

want flashlights probing my closed eyelids, they remembered
me that time I was drunk and spit and called

them pigs and they took me to a side alley
and put me in the back of the car threatening

to take me down to District 5, the implication
when I got there I’d be out of place, different

from the rounded-up others, I would be safer on the outside, the implication they
were saving me

from myself, little snowflakes like halos, nothing
seems to be the same old way the Everly Brothers continue, one

of our cats tips the water bowl so the water ripples
before she drinks it, must be some genetic memory, so frothy

at this forever tipping point, elsewhere big murder,
detonated schoolbus in Kabul, Lindsey Lohan posts

a selfie people realize is photoshopped cause there’s
a small bottle of soap that looks bent inwards near

her stomach, I hate how I feel when I say America, paranoia
avalanche, the cops in Milwaukee

have frightened me and I don’t have it nearly as bad
as those west of Holton continuously fucked with, I

look white, I am more white than Cherokee, the baby
downstairs crying, I was telling Lauren

at Sugar Maple how all this must
crisscross, I am white, I am not white,

didaniyisgi, policeman, translation:
“he argues repeatedly and on purpose

with a purpose,”
in Cherokee the object proceeds the verb but is still after the subject, swept

from southeast to Oklahoma mostly, who
would ever become police or politician, Sitting Bull

killed by Red Tomahawk officer of Indian
Police, I’m scared to walk on ice, I wish I was

in a cool rock and roll band with Ephraim or Soham where I just talked
over squawkling guitars, all this used to

be grass, the want to build up, to now conquer sky, I have been
trying to walk out of this body my whole life, how can the Everly

Brothers fade out like
that if they’re together, I know

it must be tough to not look white like me but hey
my cats clean themselves.