If My Physical Ailments Took a Road Trip

Ben Groner III (Nashville, TN), recipient of a Pushcart Prize nomination
and Texas A&M University’s 2014 Gordone Award for undergraduate
poetry, has work published in Rust + Moth, GASHER, Whale Road
Review, The Shore, Cheat River Review, and elsewhere. You can see more of his work at.

This poem was originally published in The Shore.

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If My Physical Ailments Took a Road Trip

The alfalfa along Black Pine Road

is getting patchy, as are my eyebrows,

idiopathic ulerythema ophryogenes

uprooting those minuscule stalks

from sunburnt land. While we’re at it,

let’s not forget to properly position

the lumbar cushion for that most sinuous

of coastline curves, scoliosis that always

has my back. White lines stutter

on the blacktop, but it will relieve you

to know my right eye hasn’t wandered

since childhood surgery, though I’ve

retained the tendency to meander down

blue highways, open to a rustic barn,

a timorous pond. Epilepsy is the real kicker

here. Derecho that can knock out power—

though only for a few minutes—violet heat

lightning that can transpire in an hour,

a week, five years, never. I’ll skip

the electrocution, please, but keep the rain—

the reservoirs are running low. Grogginess

follows like fog scarfing Douglas firs

at daybreak. But there are problems more

pressing than one person’s rather minor

maladies. The aforementioned drought, yes,

screwing the ice caps on tight, keeping

rage and rifles on separate riverbanks.

A colleague once told me I have eight

seconds to hold someone’s attention

before it wanders. If so, I’ll gladly release

you, kind stranger, to your own concerns.

But won’t you look once more? Cliff

vertebrae dynamite into the sea, blighted

pine needles pelt their own sheltering bark.

Ben Groner III (Nashville, TN), recipient of a Pushcart Prize nomination
and Texas A&M University’s 2014 Gordone Award for undergraduate
poetry, has work published in Rust + Moth, GASHER, Whale Road
Review, The Shore, Cheat River Review, and elsewhere. He’s also a
former bookseller at Parnassus Books. You can see more of his work at

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April 23, 2023 2:34 pm

I like the way, towards the end of the poem, the speaker puts his ailments in context with the earth’s well-being. The body as a wild landscape and windstorm, a wonderful metaphor.

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