John Wojtowicz

Like a Yin Yang

You once told me that part of my allure 
was that you knew 
we wouldn’t last. But after the night 
we came home kissing 
across the threshold and I lifted you 
onto the kitchen counter 
and, as usual, you left before I awoke 
but this time had locked 
your keys in the caryou didn’t expect 
a guy who needed AA 
to have AAA. We sat on my stoop 
sipping coffee and laughed 
about how you thought my solution 
would involve an old coat hanger
though you were unsure if I owned a coat hanger. 
And when in three months  
I lost my license, I thought your solution 
would involve an ultimatum 
but instead you offered  
to drive me down the Blue Ridge Parkway 
with its 45 mph speed limit 
and rhododendrons. I joked how 45 mph 
should be the national limit 
and asked you to pull over at almost 
every scenic overlook
along the 469 miles of America’s Favorite Drive. 
I think it was at Craggy Gardens 
around MP 364 that I told you 
how I grew up on a nursery, made 1,000 
rhododendron cuttings 
a season—that rhodos were first classified as roses 
and are the national flower of Nepal.
You said you couldn’t picture 
me as a farm boy and laughed 
when I said, in a husky voice: “that’s because 
I was a nurseryman.”
I told you there was a Free Tibet 
bumper sticker on my first truck 
and got heated describing the ongoing atrocities. 
You told me to breathe 
and then taught me to breathe.
You told me how you attended six schools 
in five years; how you don’t 
have a hometown or a middle name; how 
you love the homeliness of moss, 
the way it curates space.
We conversed lying like a yin yang
on a road-worn Guatemalan 
blanket and fell asleep in the shade 
of a Catawba rhododendron
as a nectarine sunset
juiced the Appalachian mountains. They’re older than 
Saturn’s rings and Earthly bone.
You stayed long enough
to see my court clothes become my work clothes.

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John Wojtowicz  grew up working on his family’s azalea and rhododendron nursery and still lives in the backwoods of what Ginsberg dubbed “nowhere Zen New Jersey.” Currently, he teaches social work at Stockton University. He serves as the Local Lyrics contributor for the Mad Poet Society blog and has been featured on Rowan University’s Writer’s Roundtable on 89.7 WGLS-FM. Recent or forthcoming publications include: Rattle, Split Rock Review, Soundings East, West Trade Review, and The Ekphrastic Review. He is the author of the chapbook Roadside Attractions: a Poetic Guide to American Oddities. Find out more at: