Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sample Poems: Volume 20

by Mary Fell
Birds are afloat
in the backyard and the cat
bursts from the open door,
urging them into a brief explosion.
The world is hers and she
its center, hers the eyes
that imagine birds,
the leap that releases the wings,
her feathered jaws their just
end and meaning. She knows
exactly what to do. She doesn't
doubt it for a moment.
by Dan Lewis
When it comes it will be, I think
like the kick
of my father's twelve gauge shotgun
when I was nine. Anticipated glory, it exploded
inside my body, surprising sinew, unbuckling
my joints. I would have fallen backward
but my father's hewn hands, firm
on my shoulders held me fast to the world.
Now fifty yards into the woods and coughing again,
he leans unsteadily against a tree and waits
for the spasm to pass.
Extra innings
is what the doctor says we have of him now.
Extra innings, the measured part of the game
concluded, the rulebook suspended,
the crowd antsy in their seats.
Doubtless he should not be walking in the woods at all,
though I likely should not have panicked five minutes ago
finding him suddenly gone from the porch.
He will sit now on a boulder,
to tease a tendril of breath out of the thin air,
shaking his head at me, sheepish
as if this weakness were his own doing
(fathers should be strong for their sons).
But he is tired; the pretense will not hold;
he will walk back to the house slowly
leaning on my arm.
The first time I fired the shotgun
it was exactly as I thought it would be, exactly,
except that nothing could have prepared me
for that fierce blow, delivered from nowhere
that I could see. Obdurate, intractable, more genuine
than any seem thing. It was not the force,
but the sudden clear knowledge
that knocked the wind out of me.
Dying in Massachusetts
by Donald Baker
I think I should like to die in Massachusetts,
wading Parker's River in sneakers at slack water,
my wire basket a quarter full of blue crabs,
and I easing my long-handled net towards a big one.
The sun is shining as hard as it can, for it is August.
Clamshell clouds are crowding over the western horizon.
I mash a green-head fly against the nape of my neck,
and the big crab scuttles away under the peat.
No matter. Because I am thinking of what I read
last night in Van Gogh's letters: I am in it
with all my heart. I must become more skilled than I am
before I can be ever so slightly satisfied with myself.
And so at that moment the sun collapses into the river,
the crabs are spilled, the net, the fly, the collecting storm
plunge through a canvas of reds and yellows and blues
into the still, cool, clouded poem my life has written.
I'm the old white-bearded geezer they find,
floating face-down, two guys in a rented skiff,
with beer and sub sandwiches and Saturday off,
who on Sunday read about themselves in the Boston Globe,
and at night tell their wives about it in Worcester,
and on Monday their buddies down at the station-house.
So the rumor of Donald Baker's death ripples
into the neighborhoods where he was born and grew up.
It passes 14 Reed Street, riding no-hands on a blue bicycle,
and Red Logan's mother peers through her parlor curtains,
saying: all that expensive college education.
It rings a doorbell at 282 Chandler Street,
and Alice Crowe's father takes his pipe out of his mouth,
saying: a good thing you married the dentist.
And for about ten seconds the streets light up
with the glances and ball games and arguments nobody remembers.
Now the tide turns, a cold stream flooding in
from Nantucket Sound nudges the body upriver,
and the majestic voyage begins, through the grief
of sister and daughters and wife, across the promotion,
with tenure, of junior colleagues, beyond Life Insurance
and Supplemental Retirement Annuity, to a Free
Government Marker and Eternal Care in the plot
in Pine Grove Cemetery behind the Tastee Freeze on Route 28.
My friends, there's a lot of dignity here.
Those oaks are rooted in great-aunts and great-uncles,
that headstone shadows the secrets of my mother's bed,
and my father's electrons waver forever in this loam.
It is March 26th. I am in it with all my heart.
I must try to become more skilled than I am before I die.
For the titles of a thousand unwritten lives
are circling overhead on the gray sails of the gulls.

No comments:

Post a Comment