I’ll Stick Around

by Ross White

I like the world today.
I like its raw ore heart exposed,
I like its big dumb male oceans fumbling
for a glimpse of the beautiful naked ladies
sunning on its thousands of miles of coast.

I like its clumsy, tender forests that cradle
ring-tailed lemurs and white-tailed deer
the way a barely-trained teenaged babysitter
minds the kids in her care.

I can’t tell you how to live,
but today I think I can tell you why.

I like the world in its slip of continents
and the trashy blue dress flowing over
those curves and canyons, occasionally
flashing a little of that hot magma underneath.
I like the world through its terrible tantrums,
the quakes and tornadoes and surges
a boy tyrant might pitch at the servant
feeding him the wrong kind of soup.

I like the way the world ultimately
keeps a routine, its morning prayers
in the east, its showers,
its midday lunches with one close friend,
its midnight snack with another:

the sun, who shows up for work, even on days
when the clouds lock him away
in the back office to do accounting;

the moon, who for a couple days each month,
is a terrific flirt—look how she’s got
all the waves at the sandbar begging
to buy her another drink.
Then she, like me, hides herself
from everyone who cares,
peering from behind the great black window
a little less each night.

It’s staggering how often I’ve retreated
to my cramped cave, drawing pictures of hunters
and sad elk on its walls with red mud.
I’ve spent days on end staring
into my own sorrowful chasm,
which as it turns out isn’t far past the water table.

But I like the world today
in ways I didn’t yesterday,
even if I can’t tell you what’s changed.

The moon eventually craves the company
of sailors, and low in the sky,
she blushes a little when she makes Mars jealous.

The sun sometimes works the front desk,
and, as I step through the door,
he greets me gently and tells the bellboy breeze
to show me to where I’ll be staying.

Sometimes a bobcat wanders
into a subdivision or a supermarket,
sometimes a blue whale enters the unlikely lagoon,
and there we are, staring at some new form
of majesty that yesterday wasn’t possible.



Ross White is the director of Bull City Press, an independent publisher of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. He is the author of Charm Offensive, winner of the 2019 Sexton Prize, and three chapbooks: How We Came Upon the Colony, The Polite Society, and Valley of Want. He teaches creative writing and grammar at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and co-hosts The Chapbook, a podcast devoted to tiny wonderful things.


Filed under Poetry

2 responses to “I’ll Stick Around

  1. Austin Alexis

    I especially like the two-line third stanza.

  2. I like how this poem features animals.

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