The Wander Years by Bob Sykora

Tell me about your condition.
This perpetual state of raveling –
the inability to hear your inner monologues
over your inner dialogues. The slow,
laborious tumult – the way you hear grasshoppers
in your basement. The way your basement
doesn’t exist. Tell me about your dreams –
here’s a knife, here’s a pencil –
so you can explicate them here on the coffee table.
Show me the one where your mother
speaks with her hands
and her hands
speak French. The way her candy wrapper smile
names you Clarence, or Lucy.
Her words
encircle you in cursive and tie you to the recliner
in the living room, where you watch television
until you’re no longer dreaming, but actually
in the living room
watching television.
Show me the one
where you bite off your fingers or chart maps in the sky.
Show me the one where you’re a mountain,
where you’re indestructible
and you spend the whole night
not basking in your power but entirely insatiable
at your inability
to hurt yourself.
Or show me the one where you’re the bed bugs,
choosing precisely the 3 inches of your own flesh
to gnaw at each night. Tell me
about the carcasses you draw
of the people you love –
how you’re already prepared for each of them to die.

Bob Sykora is currently an MFA candidate at the University of Massachusetts Boston and the poetry editor of Breakwater Review. In a previous life, he was a high school teacher. He may have left his heart in Chicago. He can be found at

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