Rodd Whelpley

Photo Credit: Martin Fisch/Flickr (CC-by)

Here is how to do it.
Fix your eyes forward,
the left wide, rounded,
the right squinted,
as if barreling down
a rifle sight.

your right index finger
along the back
of your left index finger,
pointed straight ahead.

from the knuckle past the nail.
Make some sound,
like a Boy Scout,
with a book of blue-tipped matches
working to ignite a fire.

That slight,
deafening swoosh
You do not belong.
You deserve
to not belong
for the thing you did,
the person
you fail to be.

This is serious stuff.
This is not ballet.
practice this
before a reflective
shiny surface,
a mirror,
or a window
when it’s dark outside.


Rodd Whelpley is an “outside the academy” poet interested in the intersection, operation and value of poetry in the work-a-day world. He manages an electric efficiency program for 32 cities across Illinois and lives near Springfield with his wife, son, a dog, and stacks of books. His poems have appeared in Tinderbox Poetry Journal, 2River View, *82 Review, Right Hand Pointing, Shot Glass Journal, Spillway, The Naugatuck River Review, Eunoia Review, Antiphon, The Chagrin River Review and other journals. Email: rwhelpley[at]

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