you are in the diode archives spring 2010



Wish Camp

What do you want to be when you grow up?
—Every adult I ever knew

The Firefighters and Pyromaniacs are evenly matched. Early afternoons we are surrounded by sirens and burning houses. All morning Carpenters hammer up the firewood structures, then the crazy Pyros run past, trailing gasoline. Policemen catch them, read them their rights, let them go. In the Performing Arts Center, stocky Ballerinas dance Bumblebee Remix to a recorded audience. When they fall on their clavicles, they go to the hospital where everyone’s a Nurse or Doctor. The Astronauts know how the Ballerinas feel. They get dizzy too.

Down the hall from the Veterinarians, aquariums bubble with blooming frog eggs. I am a Biologist, my nails pond green. We touch everything: newborn moles we call jellybeans, the dry squeeze of snakes, underlip of turtle shells and their feet pumping air when we don’t put them down. We climb a ladder to measure giraffes. There are enough microscopes for everyone. We watch movies of dividing e. coli, whale migrations, time-release plants jerking to adulthood, human fetuses glowing red in their round belly containers. We know about sex. We don’t tell jokes about it. We’re not Comedians.

The Stylists do our hair twice a week. For dinner we eat pizza with heaps of pepperoni, and wedding cake, our lips pink and blue from icing roses. Pizzeria Cooks and Bakers in big hats receive our applause. No one makes salad. Movie Stars come out smoking cigarillos, followed by Circus Performers. The Biologists don’t want the tigers doing tricks, but we sure wish we could spin on ropes like that. The Presidents say, “My fellow Americans!” Pilots give Soldiers a ride to war. Each day, a few don’t come back.



After visiting a sculpture by James Turrell

What if night
were like this room?
so dark we can’t see
our own shoes.
We have curved
around the corridor,
groped down the hand rail
to a pair of wooden chairs
where we look ahead, wait for light.

What if it appeared, creeping?
a cloud or swarm of bees,
silent as a meteor shower. The edges
might be red, the rods and cones
in our eyes making blue at this twilight
like the Seven Sisters of Taurus
who can’t all be seen
straight on, the last coming out
from a slow side glance.

What if we woke
before every dawn,
opened our slant faces
to the almost light, thinking,
Where are we? What happens next?  


Karen Schubert’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Fifth Wednesday Journal, Zoland Poetry, Redactions, Terrain.org, Reconfigurations, 42opus, and others. In 2009 she received awards from the American Academy of Poets, dA Center for the Arts, and Knockout’s International Reginald Shepherd Poetry Prize.  She is a recent writer-in-residence at Texas A&M-Commerce, and current poetry editor for Whiskey Island Magazine. Her chapbook is The Geography of Lost Houses (Pudding House). She currently lives in Youngstown, Ohio.