By Adrian Slonaker

Discovery in the Stacks

A tawny art textbook last loaned
forty-five years earlier
sat like a hardcover wallflower in
the vastness of the university library.
A tired grunt of graphite trailing into nothingness,
the borrower’s scribbled signature elicited voiceless questions:
Who possessed that signature?
Had it outlived him-
or her?
What had become of the cryptic signer
during decades of war,
and dance crazes?
Multiple marriages,
Had the erstwhile student aged
with reflective resignation
or battled biology with
dime-store miracle creams or costly lifts?
Not wanting some future reader
to harbor the same wonderings about me,
I shut the cover as I’d close a clam shell,
shoved the volume back on its shelf,
and slipped out to the snack bar.

Palak Paneer, Protection and Pregnant Pauses                                                                     

Sheltered by the shade of an awful shingled awning,
I swatted away a secret more dismal
than the leaden clouds eavesdropping on us:
I craved your toenail clippings in my sink.
Raindrops slalomed down your supersized nose, but
the wetness of you is nothing new to me;
I watched the water whirl over your contours
when we showered together this morning
in that dodgy dormitory where we’d punctuated
the musty dreariness with delighted yelps-
unlike the sullen silence of this Sunday afternoon
with hurried helpings of curry and swigs of soda.
Conversation was scarce, at least the velar and uvular kind.
Why talk when a look can protect you?
Even with scattered sleep, you’re still stunning-
made up like a mod masterpiece in brooding blacks and grays,
preened where appropriate, carelessly scuffed where irresistible.
I focus on your fabrics because anything further would
excise the candy core from our fun sin compromisos.

Maple Sap and Skin Hunger

King crimson maple tree branches
dangling behind my back
behind your back,
sap speckling the park bench, rivaling this afternoon’s raindrops.
How long has the King reigned here?
Thirty years? Fifty years?

Will you beautify my life for as long as this tree has beautified this spot?
It’s pointless to conjecture.
Why dwell on the unknowable
when the knowable is all too real
and all too sublime:
that elusive sating of mind hunger
and skin hunger.

Poets propose that you touch my soul.
Scientists say you switch on my brain’s pleasure center.
Poetry or science,
press your thigh closer to mine
as leather meets velvet.

About the Author:


Adrian Slonaker works as a copywriter and copy editor in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA. He holds a Master of Arts degree in interdisciplinary humanities from California State University-Dominguez Hills.  Adrian’s poetry has appeared in Amaryllis, The Mackinac, Eunoia Review, Aberration Labyrinth, Nixes Mate Review and others.