The Holocene, with Figurative Language

Matthew Tuckner

Paige Lewis selected “The Holocene, with Figurative Language” for the 2022 Yellowwood Poetry Prize. They write, “After reading ‘The Holocene, with Figurative Language’ a dozen times, I’ve come to the realization that it’s possible to love each line of a poem equally. Every image is my favorite image. I can’t wait for Yalobusha Review readers to discover this poem and experience similar revelations.”
I blinked & nearly
missed it completely.
A skirmish under the overpass.
A film by Michelangelo Antonioni.
Green soda spilled from the window
of a yellow taxi.
Fire turned a forest into fire.
Mushrooms & duck fat congealed in a pan.
Toddlers talked back & forth
between two soup cans & a shoestring.
Rain bounced off the skylight.
God was a cracker we ate.
When it outraced a missile,
a falcon was tossed
a frozen gerbil yanked
from a denim sack.
The Elk River gave us cancer.
Gum got stuck in the basil plant.
How else to describe it. We had underbites.
We wore big, black coats.
Somewhere along the way
the word for a little mouse
became the word for muscle
& I could finally carry
the air conditioner up the stairs.
MATTHEW TUCKNER is a writer from New York. He is currently an MFA candidate in Creative Writing at NYU where he is Poetry Editor of Washington Square Review and teaches in the Undergraduate Writing Program. He is the recipient of a University Prize from the Academy of American Poets, and was a finalist for the inaugural Prufer Poetry Prize. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in 32 Poems, Colorado Review, Pleiades, Nashville Review, The Missouri Review, Bennington Review, Bat City Review, Image, New Ohio Review, Poetry Northwest, and The Massachusetts Review, among others.