Sunday, July 31, 2022

Nothing Terribly Surprising

The roommates were almost done
With the year and each other—
Although they still had three months

Left on the lease, they wouldn’t
Try making it through summer.
One was headed to England.

One had won a position
With an agency downtown
Writing and editing ads.

They’d played Odd Couple all year,
The fussy one and the slob,
Until they’d loathed each other.

The handsome, rundown building
With the fleas and hardwood floors
Would have to do without them

And their daily bickering.
The neat one was leaving first.
He imagined that the slob—

Who smoked in bed, while cooking,
In the bath—might start a fire
With no one there to watch things,

But the slob moved on, no sweat,
And went on to a good life—
One wife, multiple children

Who got good educations
Funded by his long career
With the same ad agency.

The fussy one did okay,
Stumbled through life, earned degrees,
Married a couple of times,

And finally got around
To looking up his roomie,
As if he were an old friend,

Inquiring about the good
Life, wife, educated kids.
They exchanged a few pictures

And book recommendations,
And then that was that. Awkward,
But weirdly satisfying

Simply to know they’d lived on,
Whereas their building had burned,
Just a month after they’d left.

Saturday, July 30, 2022

The Literary Seminar’s Imaginary Reunion

Ubi sunt, the grad students
Who sat around that table?
The Urdu-fluent Muslim

With a professor father
Down in Savannah, Georgia?
The narrow, freckled redhead

With a professor father,
Well known, up in Michigan?
The wealthy, tall, man-eating

Floridian with a gun,
Haute couture, and proud to be
A Reagan Republican?

The wide, round-faced, frizzle-haired
Boy like a daub of white paint?
The hirsute hermit in boots?

The quiet, anxious scholar,
With a professor mother
From gracious Alabama?

The handsome Latin major
Who carried himself with hauteur?
They’re all alive, all alive

So far, despite everything,
Despite halfway becoming
What they wanted and halfway

Trying to leave. Ubi sunt
Is not the question you want,
Really, answered exactly.

Friday, July 29, 2022

Two Not Together

It was a trying summer.
No one knew quite what was wrong
With their father. So many

Boys (and a couple of girls)
Had been acquired as siblings
Just within the past few years,

Including a few fostered,
That the departure of Chris,
Who had a mother in town

With her own house, other kids—
Chris who was unofficial,
Not adopted or fostered,

A good guy, but just going
Back to his own family—
Didn’t seem that big a deal

At first, to all the others.
But their father was distraught.
Their father arranged meetings

With Chris, where one brother said,
Having witnessed it, Dad wept.
It was a long, gloomy month,

Despite fine summer weather.
Once they’d grown up, some kids would
Put two and two together.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Realism in Prose Fiction

The village is quieter
Even than normal for it.
No one is on the Main St.

The shops have closed for the day,
Not that there are many shops
Still in business any day.

The locals have headed home
For the evening already,
And there are no visitors.

The village is perfectly
Emptied of any people
In its middle. Anyone

Who might see must be watching
From behind a closed window
As two crows caw on a wire,

And the buildings throw shadows
That merge before vanishing,
And nothing comes down the street.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022


The storm was incredible.
It covered the world in ice
And missed none of the details.

Every tree branch capable
Of carrying so much weight
Was encased to the last twig.

The weather vane, the school bell,
The railings, the flower beds,
The boots left outside the door,

That carton of stolen milk
Placed out on the windowsill—
Everything out to the edge,

Everything close to the touch,
Wore its own jacket of ice.
The headmaster decided

The frail boy should stay inside.
While being held out of class,
He stared all day at rainbows

Shattering into the snow.
That was the week he started
To fall way behind in math.

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

TV Night at Home with Friends

Half the people in the room
Think it’s incredibly cool.
The rest find it disturbing.

It’s a murder mystery,
A conspiracy theory,
A town as a haunted house.

It’s like pulling up floorboards
And discovering termites
In the local museum.

Half the people haven’t seen
Anything like it before,
And find themselves unsettled.

The half who begged to watch it,
Who said it was about home,
Feel it’s home surrounding them.

None of them will remain friends
For long after this school year,
Although they’ll all live full lives,

And the pilot shown tonight
Will draw or repulse others
To and from them, many years.

Monday, July 25, 2022


They paused for Rocky Mountain
National Park on the way
Home after to failing to stay

The season they’d intended.
It was a detour, of course,
But an easy, soothing one.

At one point, they hiked a short
Trail over a lookout peak
Helpfully dotted with signs

Identifying wildlife,
Marmots and their predators,
For instance, and altitude,

And peaks on the horizon.
Reading one, she called to him,
Hey, guess how high up we are?

Over thirteen thousand feet!
At which moment, it occurred
To them both they’d been feeling

A little bit out of breath.
This is the highest ever,
For me, outside of a plane,

He said. Then they went back down
To the trailhead for the drive
To Boulder, destination

For that evening. Following
The highway through a ravine,
She pointed out a cabin

Clinging to a wooded cliff
And said it looked forbidding.
Can you imagine winter?

They both shuddered and laughed,
But later, he thought, maybe
That’s the way I want to live.

Sunday, July 24, 2022

A Narrative Template

Ginny has a choice to make
Between a couple of men,
Neither one attractive

But both attracted to her
And each with his own virtues,
As it were. The narrative

Itself, maybe, attracts her.
She’s not sure. She met them both
Through a local company

That sets up dinner parties
For singles, who can request
Follow-up contact info

From the company. Neither
Of these men were ones she’d asked
To know more about, but then,

They’d both asked after her, so
She thought she’d give them a chance.
Now she’s not sure. The young one

Is short and not that well off.
The tall one with the nice house
Is older and getting fat.

Both are well-educated,
Clean, attentive, and polite.
Both are cheerful company.

She’s not sure that she needs one,
Either one, or any man.
She’s lonesome, and she wants one.

It would be nice to have one.
A few weeks, she alternates
Dates with each of them, and feels

Like she’s fulfilling the role
She should in the narrative.
One night in the young man’s car,

He plays a song she can’t stand,
And she feels that it’s a sign.
She chooses the older man.

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Fear, Bones, and Beer

Those three boys had everything
And nothing much in common,
Being all boys, new neighbors

In a scruffy neighborhood,
All white boys, separated
By sectarianism

(Proddy, Fundy, Catholic),
Age (seven, eight, eleven),
Parental set-ups (divorced,

Married, police officer
To home-maker, cabinet-
Maker to registered nurse),

And sibling situations
(Two much older, adults, four
Stair-steps up through their teens, two

Younger sisters), but none rich
Or unsheltered, none ever
Exposed to any other

Circumstance but middle-class
Northern New Jersey suburbs.
Two of the boys weren’t too bright.

One was bright but handicapped.
The youngest, Catholic boy
Was timid, a follower.

The middle, handicapped boy
Was pious but subversive,
And the oldest, the leader

From the broken family—
A brother in the Marines,
A sister half-a-hippie—

Was already corrupted
And eager to corrupt more—
One day, an expedition

To find his brother’s porn stash
In the depths of the garage—
Another day, cigarettes

Stolen from the youngest’s dad,
The great policeman, then smoked
Down by the creek while hiding

In some reeds, hoping to see
The fabled snapping turtle
Who bit off a kid’s finger.

Today, it’s early winter,
And rainy and raw and grey,
Shit weather to be outside,

So they sneak in the garage
Of an elderly neighbor,
The old Dutchman, Grigolet,

And pilfer from the cases
Of good beer he keeps stacked there,
Taking a few from the back.

They smuggle them to the fort
They’ve made of an abandoned
Outhouse in overgrown woods,

Where they’re cold, but dry at least,
And can huddle, slurp, and spit,
And brag about laws they’ll break

Someday as tough, grownup men.
It’s a mercy they can’t know
What will become of their boasts.

It’s a mercy no one can.
For now, rain drizzles on tin,
And beer soothes the fear and bones.

Friday, July 22, 2022

The Middle-Aged Widower’s New Lover, Long Ago

He felt like a recent poem
By Anne Carson, that moment.
He assumed it was recent—

Short Talk on the Sensation
Of Aeroplane Takeoff—one
Sentence about love running,

Life with its arms up yelling
Let’s buy it what a bargain!
And here he was, on a plane,

Sitting next to love running
Towards him with her arms up,
And that’s what she was shouting.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

That Last Month

Each quiet chaos of vague
Possibility slipped by,
Taking more summer along,

Day by day and hour by hour,
Slowly, languidly even,
Hot and sunny and lovely

And done, a part of the past.
She began to stay up late,
Then later, napping at noon.

She complained they were losing
The last of their year away,
Their magical year away.

The more she felt the approach
Of the day they’d head back south,
The harder it was for her

To make anything of now,
This day, this hour. She drank beer,
Got weed from the neighbor, napped,

And stayed up most of the night,
Reading and watching the moths.
Nothing happened, nothing much.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Do You Know How Your World’s Been Built?

They visited her uncle
And aunt in Mormon country
North of Salt Lake, a few days.

Career had relocated
The Alabama couple,
Decades ago, to Utah.

He’d worked as a packaging
Engineer, one of that vast
Army of unseen think-teams

Facilitating global
Industrial capital
Chains supplying trade networks.

Now he was retired. His toy
That summer was his Blu-Ray
Laser disc in the basement

That the aunt called Ralph’s Man Cave.
It wasn’t very cave-like,
Carpeted and upholstered,

With small, high garden windows
Letting in bright mountain light,
Everything tidy, no guns,

Hunting trophies, pool table,
Sports memorabilia,
Wet bar, or coolers in sight.

There was a drafting table,
A desk packed with computers
And printers, shelves of hardbacks,

Mostly on engineering,
Home-kit computer building,
Hobbies, and world history,

But the basement’s centerpiece
Was the small home theater
Where Ralph watched action movies,

Playing the most dynamic scenes
Over and over again,
In between playing his discs

Reproducing classic art
From world-famous museums,
Thrilled with how he could zoom in.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Career Highlight

There’s a poster on the wall
Beside the elevator
For Felicity. Keri

Russell beams out, curly haired,
From it. Some melancholy
Associated with this—

The loneliness of this year,
Maybe, that dreary lobby,
The confined circumstances,

Loss of partner, loss of car,
Loss of most adult status,
All for a return to school

Among students more the age
Of this TV character—
Would ever after adhere

To that name, Felicity.
That’s what he tells her, at least,
His first friend in this new world,

Midway-aged from him to her
On the poster, and also
Curly haired, a grad student

Radiating confidence,
With a Navy officer
For a boyfriend, a nice house

In the Avenues, and plans
To turn promising fieldwork
Into a brilliant career,

No idea yet that grad school
Itself might be the apex
Of academic success

For her, as Felicity
Was for Keri Russell’s fame.
The worst part about the past

Is how it clings to sadness
By clinging to its future.
At least, that’s what he tells her.

Monday, July 18, 2022

Night in Wallace

The newlywed couple finds
A room in an old hotel
In the decrepit downtown

Of another one of those
Boom-bust western mining towns
That sprung up quick as mushrooms

In the westward expansion
Before settling down into
Generations of decay.

Having checked in, they wander
Around for something to eat,
Eventually strolling

Into a green neighborhood
Of slowly falling houses,
Eerily quiet, until

Fireworks start going off,
First as isolated pops
They half mistake for gunshots,

Then fizzing from a display
Being shot off on the hill.
They’d forgot it was the Fourth,

But now they happily perch
And cuddle on the cracked steps
Of what used to be a porch,

For the quarter-hour or so
Of gathering dusk it takes
For the small stockpile to go.

A few whoops drift from the hill.
A few more whizzes and bangs
Speckle the dim neighborhood.

It will be some years before
One of the pair, long after
The divorce, will run into

Some lines in another poem
Reminiscent of this one
Night in Wallace, Idaho—

There are sad, almost empty
Towns occasionally
Brightened by fireworks—

Which brings the memory back
Of a dusk not so much sad
As, for that night, contented.

Sunday, July 17, 2022

The Know

In the hippie coffee shop,
No one looks like a hippie.
Everyone’s cooler than that.

The smell may mate patchouli,
Ground arabica, and herbs,
But the customers wear black

With post-punk haircuts dyed black
Where not shaved close to the skull,
Since they all know in New York

And London the hippie days
Are over, and they all read
The zines and the Village Voice.

They can’t help the coffee shop.
It’s the coolest place they’ve got
In this town of cowboy dives,

Frat houses, and casinos—
Plus too many leftover hippies
Who mostly smoke weed at home

And raise organic kids now.
It takes a lot of effort
To be cool in such a town,

And the couples in leather
Would never dream of mingling
With the dweeb who just moved here

From actual Manhattan
Wearing ordinary clothes.
Only locals know this pose.

Saturday, July 16, 2022


His father takes his picture
Beside the crocodile pool
At a wildlife attraction.

He is reading intently,
Apparently ignoring
The crocodiles for the book.

The crocodiles do bore him,
A little, since they’re dozing
Fat slugs in leather armor,

None of them thrashing about
At the moment, but that’s not
Why his nose is in a book.

It’s not that the wildlife park,
For all its touristy kitsch,
Isn’t interesting to him.

He’s not avoiding the world.
He’s fascinated by beasts
But also wants something more.

Friday, July 15, 2022


The family’s grown by two
More disabled orphan boys,
One from South Korea, one

From a grim institution
Locally synonymous
With madness—You oughta be

In Greystone! runs the kids’ taunt,
Whenever some other kid
Says something ridiculous.

One boy has had polio
And speaks almost no English.
One’s spina bifida locked

Him into that asylum.
Neither had any parents
Before now, but here they are,

Adopted at the moment
The father is going broke,
Since no one’s eager to hire

A designer of custom
In a wheelchair, no less—not

With construction contraction
And the energy crisis.
The grandparents pay mortgage

For a few months, while scolding
About all the adoptions,
But in church the only talk

Is of how the Lord Provides.
The mother and father give
Testimony every week.

Collections are held for them.
Another school year begins,
Four kids in, two boys held out

Until they have some small chance
Of passing, at least a grade
Or two behind for their age.

The oldest kid, in sixth grade,
Who was once an only child,
Collects leaves for his scrapbook

From the feral, second-growth
Hardwoods surrounding the house,
Gluing and labeling them.

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Better and Better

She needs a new room to rent.
She’s sick to death of the house
She shares with her former friends.

There’s a sign on a kiosk,
Among the advertisements
And announcements of events,

Place to let for a student,
A one-bedroom apartment,
But with another student

Already in the main room
Renting space on the sofa,
With a single bathroom shared.

Reluctantly, she decides
To check it out. It’s married
Housing, and it’s occupied

By a recently divorced
White boy, still a teenager,
Who doesn’t want to move out

But can’t pay full rent himself.
It’s on the top floor, good views
Over the campus forest,

Lots of light in the bedroom.
He seems nice, doesn’t give off
Any racist vibes, harmless

Little guy in overalls
And beard, smaller than herself.
She moves in, and, for awhile,

It’s a fun experiment.
Neither one has ever roomed
With a peer identified

As opposite in both race
And sex, in the binaries
They’ve both lived life in to now.

She can’t resist teasing him
A little bit, a little
Flirtatiously. Celibate

Herself, not really by choice,
She’s fascinated by him
Without feeling attracted,

And he’s clearly at loose ends,
Since his equally young wife
Of six months cleared out on him.

But after a month, it’s just,
Boring, you know? To them both,
What had seemed grown-up, daring.

He’s just another housemate
With his own ideas about
What to cook and when to clean,

And when her best friend moves out
Of the sisterhood she’d joined,
They find a place together,

This time fully off-campus,
With two bedrooms and two baths,
Not perfect, but much better.

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

And Would for the Rest of Their Lives

Mom bundled them in the back
Of the car in sleeping bags,
Trying not to wake them up,

But they were too excited.
The darkness, the snow, the cold—
The strangeness and their parents’

Own energy were thrilling,
Even though they couldn’t grasp
Yet what a vacation was,

Much less what Florida was,
Only those hours in the dark
In their sleeping bags as lights

Streamed staccato past the glass,
With the sense rules were broken,
Everything had been mixed up,

The car was a rolling bed,
Their bed was a snuggly bag,
The drive just went on and on.

Tuesday, July 12, 2022


Except the three teenagers,
No one else came to the pool
Behind the motel, most days.

One was the lifeguard and one
Was the groundskeeper’s daughter.
The third was just killing time

While attracted to them both.
For hours, any sunny day,
The lifeguard would watch the pool,

And the groundskeeper’s daughter
Would swim a little, lie out,
And occasionally talk

To the lifeguard or the boy
Killing time, just practicing
Her flirting and her English.

This went on for weeks and weeks.
The lifeguard would remember
Losing her virginity

By her choice, clandestinely.
The time-killer would recall
The murderously long hours

Of doing nearly nothing,
And the groundskeeper’s daughter
Would get incredibly tan.

Monday, July 11, 2022

And Then Never Again

After the show is over,
And they’ve taken their last bows,
But before they strike the set,

They troop to the apartment
Of the only one of them
Not still living in a dorm,

And the handsome leading man
On a hockey scholarship,
Who will drop out in a year

To join a Chippendales troupe
And make some easy money,
Produces a bag of weed,

And they all get stoned and laugh,
And then they get the munchies,
And march down to the WaWa,

Delighted to act silly
And buy ten bags of Cheetos,
Although the comic-relief-

Playing character on stage
Is now the one paranoid,
And the straight man the most bent.

They did a show. They did it
Themselves, in an old basement
Fall-out shelter in a dorm—

Their own props, their own tickets,
Their own promotion, their own
Everything, and it all worked.

Audiences came and laughed.
They’ll feature in the yearbook.
Tonight they’ll sleep on the floor,

Some lovers and some loners
In one hazy, tangled heap
Of bad jokes and Cheeto dust.

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Then You Go Home to Eat Pot Roast

The way church works is like this.
The whole family wrestles
Itself together, dresses

Everyone in better clothes,
From the family’s viewpoint,
Than are worn on other days,

Piles everyone in the car
After breakfast, complaining
Maybe but no exceptions,

To drive the few miles to church,
A whitewashed cinder-block cube
With a bare steeple for show

In a bedroom neighborhood,
Large parking lot behind it,
And everyone troops inside,

Chattering to whoever
Happens to be there that day—
Mostly the same boring folks

Seen almost all but only
Sundays—and the kids vanish
Into side rooms for an hour

Of Sunday School, the adults
Doing some Bible Study.
After that, more people show

In time for the main event,
The Sunday service, singing,
Praying, and lots of preaching

From the pulpit to the rows
Of folding chairs where kids squirm,
And the nurse who works nights snores,

And the old women rummage
In their purses for tissues.
If you’re lucky, the sermon

Won’t run past noon, and you’ll get
A caramel from someone
Who keeps candies in her purse.

Saturday, July 9, 2022

Platonic Honeymoon

They’ve come up with another
Clever scheme to set her free.
They’ll get engaged! Her parents,

Panicked by her coming out,
Might well welcome any boy
In a storm, even this one.

Once married, she’ll settle down,
Right, be a Christian woman,
Repent of preferring girls

Or not shame her family
At least. So what if he’s young
And she’s younger, both still teens?

Over the phone, they agree,
And then plan out the visit
As chance for him to propose.

It works! Her folks go for it,
Give the marriage their blessing,
And set about planning it

For next summer in their church.
The co-conspirators grin
And joke about it in code.

Once she’s married, she’ll be free
To seek out girls on the side.
The only hitch in their plan

Comes later, when his mother
Discovers he’s had a date
With another, local girl,

And is horrified her son
Would cheat on his fiancée.
But they get past that. One night

In June finds them, newlyweds
Driving through the Green Mountains,
Cackling at their great caper,

Arriving at a tavern
In deep woods by the roadside
With a Pabst Blue Ribbon sign

Glowing in the dark. The bar
Shines, reflecting the whiskeys
They’re too young to be drinking.

Friday, July 8, 2022

Friends Bored Him

Three couples got together
One time at a single friend’s
Apartment for a game night.

It was the 1990s.
They’d all been educated.
None of them had any kids.

They were all white and roughly
The same age, and they all worked
At the same place. In that sense,

They were friends, as is often
The case in situations
With coworkers—more or less.

Two couples cohabited.
The third pair were newlyweds.
The single friend had been so

For a few years. And what game
Did they play at his table?
For sure, it was a board game,

Something fairly popular
At the time. It might have been
Trivial Pursuit. They drank

Beer and wine, moderately.
The host put on a playlist
He’d carefully selected

To be appealing and show
Off his taste, his cleverness,
And his new CD platter,

But he felt insulted when
The newlywed husband asked
Who was singing, while adding,

They all sound the same. As if
Those seven people gathered
Around that little table,

All middle Americans
Of the same generation
With identical accents,

Didn’t sound egregiously
The same. Outside it was dark,
But everyone got home safe.

Thursday, July 7, 2022

The Townhouse Near Downtown

Now they try to buy a house.
She’s started her position
As full-time librarian

Across the street from his work,
And she still has some money
Left over from her divorce.

It should be the perfect time
To find a neighborhood home,
But, apparently unknown

To them, they’re starting to drift
Apart. Every house feels wrong.
When they find one that seems right,

It only makes them anxious.
They bicker over the price.
This is a big commitment,

Which they know, and they say so,
But they pretend it’s the house,
And getting just the right one

Is why it’s so difficult.
The one kind he doesn’t want
To live in is a townhouse,

And then one day she puts down
The rest of her settlement
On an elegant townhouse

Without his consultation,
And he’s hurt, but he’s relieved,
Since she’s bought them both a door.

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

You Must Have Existed

There’s nothing left of today,
Not a picture, anecdote,
Keepsake, diary entry—

Not for this day precisely,
And frankly not for most days.
Existence exists itself

Away and further away.
You’re left what the papers,
Radio, and evening news

Recorded, chose to record
Of what there was to be said
About today, but today

There was nothing to be said
On the record about you
And the day you had today,

Child barely into your teens
And not yet out of eighth grade.
It was March. Was it rainy?

It was a Friday. Was it
More than usually boring
At school today? You can strain,

You can sieve your memory,
Write a long memoir to save
Your other, important days,

But it will always be here
In you somewhere, this blank day
You know was but can’t escape.

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

The Responsible One

They shared a pretty good room—
Dorm’s top floor southwest corner,
Smallish but with two windows

Overlooking the maples
Currently turning crimson.
Shaun was in love with Diane,

The choir director’s daughter,
Or swore he was. The dramas
Of their make-outs and breakups

Often left him muttering
About maybe dropping out,
Maybe just running away.

His roomie was just in love
With running away. They talked
Philosophically of this,

Both seniors in good standing,
With good grades, applications
To college already sent.

What would it be like to run,
To cut and leave, to be bums,
To wander the continent?

Shaun was tall, healthy, handsome,
Played several varsity sports,
Was popular, had money,

But Diane drove him crazy.
He complained, and some darkness
Was always in his comments.

His roommate was a loser,
Small and homely, with nothing
To commend him but top grades.

He agonized over faith,
History, and fantasy
Novels about wanderers,

But he was helpful to Shaun,
Good at figuring out things,
Cutting corners to get by.

One day, Shaun’s English homework
Was to memorize a poem.
He hated both ends of that—

Memorizing poetry,
Speaking in front of the class—
But his roommate helped him out,

Found a poem even Shaun liked,
Short, metric with a rhyme scheme
And a devastating end,

Not too hard to memorize
And easily recited.
Shaun, relieved, landed an A.

That roommate would graduate.
Shaun, one calm October night,
Went home. Why, no one would say.

Monday, July 4, 2022

Ends Meet

The cheerful young woman
With a few groceries
Chatted at the checkout

With the cheerful cashier,
While a man with his own
Items waited behind

And was startled to hear
The cheerful young woman
Pray for a miracle,

Laughing while anxiously
Swiping her debit card,
Adding that tomorrow

At least, would be payday,
Then sighing with relief
When the small amount cleared.

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Nut Mountain

A body and words together
Decided to go foraging
For subsistence on Nut Mountain.

They promised to share what they found,
A promise easy for the words,
Who felt longing but not hunger,

But hard on the body, who lived.
And when the body found a prize,
A pine nut as big as a fist

That somehow the scrub jays had missed,
Body greedily gulped it down
Without thinking to share a bit

And right away started to choke.
Luckily, a few words escaped
Body’s quickly constricting throat,

And they hopped in the truck
And drove to find help or water.
When body’s words spotted a well,

Its old windmill spinning slowly
Beside a wooden cattle trough,
They drove up close and yelled and yelled

Until a passing pronghorn asked
What the trouble was. Words explained
In the best language that they had.

Pronghorn said it could help, but first
Words had to go get enough rope
To drop a bucket in the well.

So words roared off to fetch some rope.
They pulled up at an old ranch house
And politely inquired inside.

An old cowboy said he had rope
But he’d lost the keys to his shed.
Bust the door, and it’s yours, he said.

Cowboy watched from the porch as words
Ransacked his battered shed for rope
Then roared off in a cloud of dust,

Back to the well, where the pronghorn
Hooked the bucket up to the rope
And the rope to its horns and pulled.

With the water in back, the words
Tore off for Nut Mountain, as fast
As the truck could be made to go,

But the words made it back too late
And body had long ago choked.
So the words mourned by the body

With the old well water for tears
And the dusty truck for a tomb,
Until the words themselves were stone.

Saturday, July 2, 2022

Beginning a Family

They’ve done the baby poses.
Those photos will outlast them,
Or at least a couple will.

They have each taken a step
Closer to normality,
To the mainstream of their world.

She’s no longer a spinster
Working woman, shy thanks to
Premature upper dentures,

And he’s no longer only
The small man in the wheelchair
Still living with his parents.

He has her, and she has him,
And he has his own business,
And they have their own ranch house,

And now they have a baby
Boy with curly chestnut hair,
With whom they’ve posed for photos.

It’s October, and the leaves
Have turned, and they’ve found a church
That’s Baptist enough for them,

And in two days the Cuban
Missile Crisis will begin
To threaten them with The End.

Friday, July 1, 2022

Any Given Wednesday Back Then

Did you go to work that day?
You went. And did you stay? Hm.
Maybe you did. Probably

You came in bright and early,
Spent the morning at your desk
With the door to your office

Wide open, but then you went
To lunch, a long, heavy lunch
Alone at one of the spots

With both a liquor license
And ample dessert menu,
Where you had cake or brownie

After salad, meat, and beer.
Probably then you returned
Like Melville’s Turkey, grumpy

Or in a roaring good mood.
Or you closed your door and stared
Out the window and composed.

Then you left late and drove home
Or not straight home but almost,
Pulling out somewhere to stare

Out the window at nothing,
To read or compose some more.
But you can’t recall for sure.