Here’s what I like about humans.
Every time I talk to one, it’s a little different.
The events of the hours and the weeks
Know how to get into their voices which are wheelbarrows
Of feelings and thoughts and will carry
Anything their owners want them to.
Think of the normal people who have empty wheelbarrows
Until one fills them with sod from the side yard
Or all the loose change one has accumulated in the house.
Speaking to that person one hears,
Never literally discussed but embedded in the voice,
The impossible number of coins,
The satisfying accomplished gardening,
Even when they speak of their children in college,
Or remember to ask you how you are. Abnormal people
With hard, inflexible voices are stained by what happens
In their wheelbarrows too,
Sometimes the stain is like black enamel
Or white lilies or a white bear,
Sometimes they’ll be spare, too brief, and sometimes
Tell you anything you want to know, just ask.

Arthur Vogelsang was born in Baltimore and has lived there and in New York City, Iowa City, Wichita, Philadelphia, Paris, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles—places he has been employed variously as a teacher and as an editor. He appears frequently in anthologies such as The Best American Poetry and The Pushcart Prize, and is the recipient of the Juniper Prize, a California Arts Council fellowship, and three N
*Photo courtesy of Erich Ferdinand.
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