carson pytell – 4 poems


If you are born, you've been screwed
into existence.

We may not choose life and can do it without

Life, like color and taste, is subjective
as comfort.

My uncle recited an article to me though I could read,
all about elective homelessness.

What I know is your head always rests on a bed,
and bodies live within life.

I see, because I was chanced blue eyes, not so much
in the sunshine.

Nightly I observe. 

I am the oldest child. I am not the first child.
I am the first child they got to bring home.

When I smacked my first dinger I don't remember
seeing the pitch at all, just got lucky.

Lucky like being delivered and when the doctor returns,
they say sorry. They say they are so sorry.

I would love to believe that the doctor who said that
to mom and dad knew how it would feel.

I have tried so hard to make them believe my jealousy
of my older sister.

I understand how they cannot accept that, but cannot
accept misunderstandings.

When I tell you I see skies of white and fields of grey
I do want you to comprehend.

Terribly more so, I almost want you see them too.

I say almost only because by not saying it,
by informing someone ready to believe me,

I'd be screwing them out of existence
much more purposefully

and I am not so irresponsible a person.
Earlier, I found three slices at the top of the can.

Keep yourself to yourself unless you're ready not to,
which is something you'll never be aware of

because nobody is that smart or dumb.

Worse Than Nothing

A stone is nothing. I'm told
more than nothing, avoidance
is like passing a busking bum
glad soon as feeding a rabid Rott.

Crazy is contagious. Scary bare
as my cat's stomach looks. Like me,
he's an age that sounds young. But me;
I know not to count more than delivered digits

on years to come amounting to those past, nor trust.
Where clocks are not there, in air so sterile you gag,

I learn about time as I doze and wait for whatever 
I'll say I won't ignore. To care is often to care less.

I'm told what's left of life will be nothing
but monuments of stone which never lived.

I'm excited to guess at what we all meant
while mangy strays and winos finally feed

one upon the other until it's only me again,
no worse.

Traffic Control

There's been a signpost at the end
of each street I've ever followed
and it didn't put itself there.

Of course it had a sign on it demanding
most often that I stop, occasionally yield,
which I always stopped for instead.

Before I kept going I'd look around for safety
and proceed with caution. Unlike some few,
I am aware of others. After the crash, though,

I broke down slowly. Without trusting anyone else
you'll be made to learn you have to trust yourself.
I left my job and walked into the woods, where

if someone had already passed through I'd not know
or have to, and whatever signs I'd need would fade
into those I'd need no longer see. There I yielded

to unknowing, to confusion, freedom like a chick,
and returning to the roads to bring Dad to the doctor's,

where he'll remind me to let my son make his own mistakes
and I'll remind him how birds are pushed first, then fly.


You know
old people look
at you
like at nothing?

That is all because,

like in a stare you know
it is to concentrate
on nothing,
they try to look.

This is all because

we know nothing,
like how
what's very best of all
are daydreams,

as if an honest volunteer met first with their centennial

for pay.

CARSON PYTELL is a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominated writer living outside Albany, New York, whose work has appeared widely in such venues as Adirondack Review, Sheila-Na-Gig and The Heartland Review. He serves as Assistant Poetry Editor of Coastal Shelf, and his most recent chapbooks are Tomorrow Everyday, Yesterday Too (Anxiety Press, 2022) and A Little Smaller Than the Final Quark (Bullshit Lit, 2022).