Arguing: A Life

Argument is a rite,
a reflexive ritual, offerings
from a 21st Century mouth.
I remember a woman’s quote
as the point of a hard answer.
Specifics outlined,
suffering as context,
the crushed stand bared
like prisoners waiting the lash,
choices branded on their bottom lip.

Teaching cruelty,
I hear my wife’s sulky parallels
between teething cries and
games of war service.
Mangled country martyrs,
distorting terror of her trauma
survive as patterns,
a last fight over night fears.
“Yours now,” she says,
turning the kids over for the weekend.

My bitter friend turns his best mind to
stories for wine parties and complaints,
practiced retorts for
landlord, faithless partner.
Weary of grievance, garish revenge plays,
I add myself to the conspirator’s list.
Refusing abuse and Beaujolais,
I wave him towards the door,
willing blessings and serenity on
his first step to the corner curb.

Mostly sleeping, I wake
from fights with a dead brother,
ex-girlfriends who’d “like a word.”
I take some minor pleasure
in denial of outrageous favor.
regret’s backwards glance.
Neatly a parody of living conversation–
slashing lines, wilting anger,
lasting days of irresolution,
I come to morning in a fury.

R.T. Castleberry, a Pushcart Prize nominee, has work in Dissident Voice, Caveat Lector, San Pedro River Review, Glassworks Magazine, Silk Road and Gyroscope Review. Internationally, he's had poetry published in Canada, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, France, New Zealand, Portugal, the Philippines, India and Antarctica. His poetry has appeared in the anthologies: You Can Hear the Ocean: An Anthology of Classic and Current Poetry, TimeSlice, The Weight of Addition, and Level Land: Poetry For and About the I35 Corridor. Read other articles by R.T..