Nine Poems by Carl Gercar



I was a butterfly
but flying is harder
than they make it
so I chewed off my wings
like paper, like pages
in a book
and became a caterpillar
I’m not as beautiful,
but I’m happy.


I took medicine for my cough, but
it left me
so I stopped listening to doctors.
They never have my interests
in mind,
they only ever want to fix things.

Used Coffee Cups

I live in
used coffee cups
stained and stinking
Hot, wet shits and
quick showers
long drives in cold cars
studio apartments with shared bathrooms
and I don’t sleep
but they tell me I have my life

Stood Up At The Italian Market

How long have I been waiting?
It’s not healthy, I know
by the colony of ants
digging veins for me
dense and hot and incessant
I hate crowds,
but I don’t mind
being near someone
like this Indian man
with tadpole nose hairs
smelling of wheatgrass
and my father’s cologne
watching his family
And they bring him
meats, cheeses,
entombing him,
fine Italian limestone
His skin is creased, cracking
but they bustle over
with boxes
magpied from the branches
of these shelves
at his worth-worn sneakers,
and I wonder if he feels
this paucity
grating my good sense
into the parmesan
his wife is clutching
with squirrel-claw fingers
like the ones
wrapped around my pen
and she writes with this
delicate frenzy
I think if deer took Xanax
they’d move like her
How long have I been waiting?
Long enough to know
that I’m less aware
when I’m watching the clock
so I watch the people



I lost a woman
and got a coffee
and more women
more women than I thought
to care for,
and they were fawns
and they were gnats
and they could speak
French, Spanish, German.
Women who danced,
who sang, who wrote
Women who cast spells
under their breath
under my skin.
Women, mizzling, marching.
Women in the streets and
in their beds and
in the wind
with different faces, voices.
Women with the same name.
Women I can touch
and smell
and hear,
beating hearts
unshaven legs
pleading eyes.
But this coffee
is good too,
and it only cost me
eighty seven cents.

I Cannot Hear You

Birds fly by in heaving flocks
when you open your mouth to speak.
I cannot hear you
over the incessant pounding
of wings
of waves
of city buses filled with dejected lovers
and adulterers alike
pretending not to see themselves
in the windows over the outside world.
I cannot hear you
talking about your childhood
and showing me scars that aren’t there
or have healed,
or maybe you picked at scabs to make them.
I cannot hear you
over the cacophony of our proximity,
feet touch or fingers brush
to the rhythm of gunfire
in the key of cars crashing
and children screaming,
I can’t tell if they’re excited
or terrified
or just trying to make sure they exist.
I cannot hear you
while watching other women
walk by looking hopeful.
I cannot hear you
when you are so far away
in some other bed.
I cannot hear you when you won’t speak to me.
I cannot hear you when you yell.
I cannot hear you because you aren’t saying anything important.
I hope you aren’t saying anything important.
I cannot hear you
have not heard you
for six years straight
so why start now?


I have taken great care
to condense
the human experience
into a sound;
a howling
cross-sectioned by
childish screams
of fear
of joy
of nothing,
soulful, off-key
covers of Motown
fading into
unintelligible wailing
almost laughing,
sputtering to
a death rattle
like the moan after a

Of You

I can still feel you
in the back of
my throat,
mingled humors of
a dozen lovers
that all taste like

That’s why I enjoy
things with substance,
with flavor,
with strength of character,
like black coffee,
like cocaine,
like you.

I smoke
because it reminds me
of Tarantino movies
of men I want
to be,
of women I want
to want me,
of course,
of you.

Hungover On A Weekday

I’m sweating,
smelling, tasting,
tasting myself.
Tasting the crust
on my mouth
apple pie
red wine
beer, beer, beer.
Tasting your sweat.
Just one more hour
in bed alone.
One more hour
without open windows
or sunshine.
One more human hour
before I
walk into the street with
shards of a looking glass
in my feet.
One more hour that
the world can manage
without me.

Carl Luther Gercar is a Chicago-based poet and short-story author, born and raised in northern Illinois. His work has appeared in Fluland, Here Comes Everyone, A Void, Soft Cartel, and Occulum. He spends his free time living and working with other artists. 
Carl is reachable via email at

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