Three Poems

20/20

We’d appreciate the vision gift more
were there only
20 sets of eyes to share
with the rest of the planet.

You’d get 20 minutes with
a set a life a time
greatly celebrated mythologized
passage rite
entire master’s degrees
devoted to the study of
what we do with our
Eye Time.
Don’t just look at
boobs they will
warn us.
Don’t stare at the sun
old warm friend.
Don’t waste your
20, what colors
what to see
what squash soup
looks like as it disappears
into us
I didn’t know orange
could do that
radio shows
dedicated to describing
our see time
our 20 minutes of fame
anthologies of the
greatest compiled and taught
of course you can
be secret
you can be private
people will respect it
it’s your choice.
But also it’s illegal
to make people
nonconsensually describe.

If we die before
we get our 20
we are called
Currents or Breezes or Gravities
and when we get to heaven
we get to pick which
experience of our lives
we get to see
for 20 minutes
before we return to
a sightless eternity
for those of us
who believe.

There’s a second set
of 20 eyes, of course,
so 40 more
so 80 total
in the world.
The second set
are not shared until
the users die.
They are the Guardians
of the Shared Eyes.
Each Guardian gets
one eye for life
to see with
and another to guard.
Guardians move in
pairs with the sets
to keep half an eye on each
other so the shared eyes
don’t get separated
or lost or accidentally sat on
or whatever. The Guardians
became necessary when
shitty rich people tried to
hoard the eyes for themselves.
Luckily everyone else quickly
rose up and ate
all of those shitty rich people
except for the eyes
and set up the Shared Eye Charter
and Guardians are
selected because they’re the ones
least impressed
with sight. After their 20
they’re like meh
seeing isn’t everything.

Anyway, since I’m making
the rules here we are
both one-eyed Guardians and
we’re paired with the Brad Eyes Set
named after the Great Brad, obviously,
and we see each other every day
as we pass our one precious
globe from person to giddy person
giving the standard spiel
“Don’t just look at boobs.
Don’t stare into the sun.
May you see what you need.”
and we see each other everyday
bound by responsibility and expectation
it’s not uncommon for Guardians
to fall in love or make out
during their lunch break
scientific curiosity
but we made a kid too
who like all here can’t see
and we describe our version
of reality to her best we can.
Would we give her both our
Guardian eyes so she
could luxuriate in depth perception?
Of course not
we take our responsibility seriously
and even if we did
I wouldn’t mention it here
I’m no snitch.

Robbie Q. Telfer has performed and taught in hundreds of venues and institutions around the world. A co-founder of the Encyclopedia Show, he’s been an individual finalist at the National Poetry Slam and has a collection of poetry from Write Bloody Publishing. A member of the internationally-renowned teaching artist collective Project VOICE, he is currently an environmental educator at the Morton Arboretum outside of Chicago.