The Bears

Poetry / Brett Haymaker

:: The Bears ::

when I pedal home at four in the morning
these two guys were yelling 
although I think they were trying to sing.

They were yelling about ‘the bears’ 
with nobody but them on the street
everyone sleeping because they work 40+ hours a week 
or just waking up because two idiots are yelling 
GO BEARS outside their window and when I pedal past them
they yell, pointing at me with one of their fingers, heyhey! go
bearsgobearsgobears, and instead of hearing, yay! 
go bears! it is in my nature to hear:  Go, bear.  Go away.

And the finger pointing from the tip of their outstretched arms
does not point at me, but rather a place not here, a place
I ought to consider, so I responded by saying, Hey, why don’t you
shut up, and they responded by twisting one of their fingers 
up as if it were a candle plunged into a celebration cake
and I would have joined their merriment
always wanted to

but the merriment never suited me 
like it suits some
so instead I pedaled on
occasionally looking through the moving branches 
and with an open mouth 
I swallowed five thousand pointed stars 
proving I could 
be alone 
just me 
honey on my lips.

 

From the writer

:: Account ::

At the time I wrote this poem, I was work­ing a 4 a.m. – 12 p.m. shift at a gro­cery store, which required me to leave my house around 3 a.m.—just as the last rem­nants of drunk sports fans in the city stum­ble back to their homes, drunk-tex­ting old lovers, pee­ing in alleys, and accost­ing any oth­er per­son on the street with enthu­si­as­tic insights.

I don’t own a car and enjoy rid­ing my bike through the most­ly emp­ty, sleep­ing city—free to blow through stop signs and day­dream a bit along the way. So when I came across a pack of guys scream­ing some bull­shit song about a foot­ball team at an hour so many hard-work­ing peo­ple were using for sleep—I couldn’t keep qui­et. I had to lash out at them because, in that moment, they became prox­ies for every­thing in the dom­i­nant cul­ture that I detested—detested because, despite my repul­sion, I still seek “their” approval. As if a 9 – 5 job with a per­fect house and mar­riage is the life every­one wants and needs, and if you don’t have that you are not a true cit­i­zen of plan­et Amer­i­ca. I know it’s bull­shit, but that hasn’t stopped the mes­sages from being inter­nal­ized and regur­gi­tat­ed and used to look at myself with dis­dain. The poem is both a recog­ni­tion of the sor­row that accom­pa­nies that and a rebel­lion against it.

I should also say that I had recent­ly re-read an old copy of Win­nie-the-Pooh—an excel­lent book—as well as Ger­ald Stern’s book of poems In Beau­ty Bright, both of which are in con­ver­sa­tion here.

 

Brett Hay­mak­er is the recip­i­ent of an MFA in Poet­ry from Drew Uni­ver­si­ty as well as a poet­ry fel­low­ship from Charles Uni­ver­si­ty in Prague where he stud­ied with Slo­vak-Amer­i­can poet and trans­la­tor James Ragan. In 2012, Brett won The Philadel­phia Inquir­er’s Nation­al Poet­ry Month com­pe­ti­tion. His poems have been pub­lished in Rat­ta­pal­lax and Wil­lows Wept Review. He cur­rent­ly lives in Chica­go, Illi­nois.