I have the last story in this issue of Windmill. It has rabbits and a cemetery and Christmas in it. No politics. I swear.
A few years back I roused my rotting carcass to write some poems. I’m looking at them now because I have some time and nowhere to go. The poem that I am posting below was published in 2015 on a website that was defunct by 2017 or so. Of course, I am grateful to have been in the journal and that the editors and readers of Here/There Poety read and liked the poem enough to choose it. The poem is definitely an artifact from before times. I can tell because it is about riding the subway, something that I haven’t done for a little over three months.
“For Smith and Ninth…”
(A service announcement on the F-line, heard approximately from 2010-2012)
Some conductors swing it,
Flattening the vowels on the heavy beat
And snapping short the consonants.
Some of them mumble
Like it’s too much to give
Their voices to all these strangers.
The one today has got no rhythm,
Syllables held too long and given up too easily.
None of the notes hitting lucky,
Each remaining off-key in a key-less song.
In the absence of art, I think I know him.
I hear his too earnest song to women,
His stubbornness in singing it,
Until one, to his amazement,
Puts her hand on his shoulder
And corrects with silence.
Maybe a woman like the one standing above me.
She wants to join with summer
By being alluring.
I see her in front of morning’s mirror
Evaluating herself, using her hand to smooth
The tremors of doubt in the flat field
Between her hips.
This is all I know
Of these strangers in a train full of strangers.
It is almost more than I can bear.
More than usual, I don’t know what the next thing will be. Today, I had beers with friends behind my apartment building. We sat in chairs a little more than six feet apart. It was the first time that I had spent time with anyone other than my family in over two months. I enjoyed it but the first moments were frightening. Here’s a story from before times:
I miss this restaurant. I took my kids to Mars several times, but I would have gone by myself. I revisit it with this story published on line at the Sweet Tree Review.
Here are two poems. One is a poem about disliking poetry. I think every poet must write those poems, sooner or later. It’s true on the odd days of the week I guess. And on the first day of a month. And when the joints of my body ache. Or when some stupidity plays out in front of me on the subway. And when it’s not true, I don’t spend my time talking about it.
This other poem is about trains and poetry and a junkyard.
On this blog, I’ve written about poems that I wrote that use Greek myth. Here’s a short story that also makes use of the Odyssey. Parts of it are set in Ithaca. Not the Greek one, but the one in upstate New York. I find a sad magic in the name.
I’m going to tattoo this on my backside. Or maybe I’ll have a character tattoo this on their backside. Spring is changing the world again. Bees are running amok and those attention hogs, flowers, are waving in the breeze saying look at me, look at me. Oh, and I have two stories out this season, one on-line and one print journal.
Click the link below for a story, Teeth, in Frigg Magazine. It’s got dentists and sharks and massage parlors and a giant neon shrimp.
Clink the link below to read, A Day at the Beach. It has margaritas and a sea monster in it.
9:12 am, 11-3 at Lark, Church Avenue
The time was 9:11
but I wouldn’t type that
(still) so the lyrical
forward a minute.
No one knows
we tell on ourselves.
There were only a few
bagels in the basket.
I ordered the cinnamon
raisin with butter.
The bagel for people
who don’t know better.
What if nothing ever
happens to me again?
In the extra room,
there’s a toddler music
tambourines and drums
and chanting. A riot
(You are My Sunshine My Only)
of happiness and a room full
of gleeful emperors.
I’m only accepting anti-laurels now. Hardly.
Parade Coffee on Caton Ave, 9-30-17
A poet saying goodbye to poetry
has to write a poem and then there’s
the paperwork Tomorrow thirty years
from now when I’m gulping the air
and the names the simple things floating around me
it won’t be the neglect reserved
for genius My poems will be the chore
of the super Parsed by the furnace
turned smoke Is it defiance To keep on
making them say No Do I fail
because I want to succeed I should write
the smallest Poem I can Something
too small to say No to and revise it
with sharp knife the oblivion
a shiny flake of your lava I’ve kept
all these years a souvenir in my sock drawer
spat up by the fire goddess from Earth’s seam
syllable edge shaved by half and folded in two
submitted in triplicate
stamped Approved with the waxen seal of the Drunk Ambassador of Poetry
-they played the song from Portlandia.
Uptown Coffee, Seventh Ave, 10-12-17
Sweating in fancy clothes
from walking my kid to school
the hot coffee isn’t helping.
Tempted to pat myself dry
with the napkins. Don’t
look I’m repulsive and have
been for at least a decade.
It doesn’t matter. I’m
the only one that has to
endure this body. It looms
over no one. Nobody
has to pretend anything
to keep my feelings from
being hurt. Except for
myself in the mirror
when I shave. Squinting.
Maybe it was better at
the old place where there
wasn’t an outlet and
I felt my face until it
Steeplechase, Fort Hamilton Parkway 10-15
This is the closest
one and I’d write
here more often
but there are small
on all the best
tables. The other
is that napkins
from a roll and
cut to the exact
size you need.
I got a pecan
sticky bun and
had to go back
I started going
to coffee shops
Back then, I loved
the shop more than
was wasting time
with a book
in a place where
my friends might
by chance distract
me from myself.
I thought myself
a writer then
but all I did
Now I need
the coffee as much
as the shop.
– they played The Old Crow Medicine Show
Return to Uptown Coffee, 10-27
The chorus of the song
is Guilty as Charged.
Music like a dangly
ear ring, heavy
I don’t hear enough
to know what she did.
Claimed love, squandered
love, rebuked love.
It’s just an edgy pop
song. No real cowardice
unsettling, just that
the night is long
and everyone surrenders.