Oscar sits on his lawn chair like monarch butterfly,
cross-legged, puffing on nonfilters. If he had wings
they’d be folding over him like a quilt—he’d be non-
complaisant in orange. He concludes this life to whom-
ever’s perching next to him. He learned the faces of
Paulding Rd.—will not invade tiny space in a name.
We all need some distance. He will acknowledge
new management of Twin Oaks apartments; he speaks
with iffy immigrants cleaning up paper and cans and
thrown shrapnel around odiferous garbage bins; he
consorts with Five-O, who sets speed traps, branding
hot tickets at lunchtime; he chats under fumes with fire-
men who siren their way through the pallid smoke in
his apartment complex; he knows that the green Lexus
sitting on 22s belongs to recalcitrant butthole living
off burnt out mom in apartment 2B, who gives her son
all her pocket change, living in her big guilt. Oscar is
more mudbone; youngster’s more hard head. None
of this upsets the man whose spine twists in puzzles,
veins fight off sugar, and a toothlessness so pronounced
dark gums give him integrity. Frisco the squirrel, and
how Frisco lost her mate, bent Oscar over. Oscar saw
cobalt car smack her mate out, then a car of flame, then
a car of clouds. He lost colors in speed of a colorwheel.
When he sees Frisco, he waves her over, and they choke
on how God’s so close—untouchable.
“Oscar” deals with a man who observes his surroundings, fully, everything around him is of him, and he of it, from the real to the surreal, what is on this earthly plane, and beyond it. He is from the old school, where neighbors were concerned about one another, and he has crossed over into this new millennium scratching his head at the lack of compassion. But he continues to be himself, when so many of us our trying to be anyone else. So, I started to observe him, listened to what he said when he came and talked to me. And many times I felt too busy to chat with him. Yet, he never asked for nothing, nothing more than conversation. He is a watcher, given a job to do in suburbia. I think in this poem, I noticed him doing it. He is the part of the landscape that I am looking at in a new manuscript that addresses how nature and those in the suburbs live amongst each other.
Bio: Curtis L. Crisler was born in Gary, Indiana. Currently, he is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at IPFW. His poetry book Pulling Scabs will be released in 2009 by Aquarius Press. In 2009, Leaving Me Behind: Writing a new me, a nonfiction book addressing the six week Summer Bridge experience at IPFW was released, which Crisler co-wrote with his 2008 Summer Bridge Students. In 2008, Spill won the 2008 Keyhole Chapbook Award. His poetry book Tough Boy Sonatas was published in 2007, and is also on Recorded Books. Crisler’s Tough Boy Sonatas was a 2009 recipient of The Eric Hoffer Award. Crisler is also a Cave Canem Fellow.