Copyright 2018

Tallying Up

Susan Carlson

Living where you are is hard
to do. Just this morning
I wondered if there is a refill
on the carbidopa-levodopa
I need to pick up for my mom
and how the drug sounds
like a poem I want to write
someday. My mother counts
the number of pills left in the bottle
like she does on heaven –
both of which she wants me to know.
They make her life easier
as she takes her halting steps,
always looking, as she does,
up. She thinks it is wrong
to seek the buddhist way of being
where you are (here) when
you are (now). Even so, I try it
half-heartedly, whenever I remember
that I am far away from where I am –
which means that I don’t practice often
since I so seldom think of here
when I am there in my mind.
Still, I want to do what the buddhists do,


live.      here.      now.


because I can't count on anything else,
because I believe in the paradise of the present
like my mom believes in the pearly gates –
because I want both of us to trade what’s never
for now.

Susan Carlson lives, works, and writes in southeastern Michigan. She has had the opportunity to develop her poetry in workshops at Tin House, the Minnesota Northwoods Writers Conference, and the Djerassi Resident Artists Program. Her poems have appeared in Your Impossible Voice, The Blue Bear Review, and The Switchgrass Review, and are forthcoming in Pretty Owl Poetry, Madness Muse Press, The Literary Nest, and The Other Journal.