Leveler Poetry Journal
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Everything happens at once


Snow lights the fields;

orange clay glows.


Two young Greek students speak French

two bus rows ahead.


I think easily of Matisse—the femmes

and lines. I’m holding a text message


in my pocket. I know it says

Je veux pas, I don’t want. I don’t either.


Our end was obvious at the metro,

when she let me go like an American.


The bus rocks on the old road, and green

houses huddle against a treeline.


Matisse had seven wives, and an eye

for Arab women in hookah smoke.


Somewhere in the trees and snow

a squirrel dreams. More nuts sums it up.


In childhood more is the second word—

after mama. There’s only so much to go around.


I pray to the cat in a dirt road

that I never see my mom again, until summer


when I’ll have buried this bus ride

with that last sentence, and a fear of cats


which Matisse could not sympathize with.

For some want is the second word—and then


no.




Elias Simpson