The Shamrocks Little green trinities—at home between sky and sod, a canny family resemblance, a truly inside job—a common life far beyond broad oceans of guilt and sad regret—not these worthless plastic hats and opaque glasses, not these banners from forgotten holidays spent over Hell’s Ditch and the moon—not the smoking remnants of a blasted Friday from dark in 1972—not me, not you, not at all this weight of black hilarity behind us—only a lilt of dawn light over the rise, and a breeze that moves with or without purpose, and that sweeps the quiet field of the many and the one.
The Guns of Navarone, 1961 “It’s fifty years since I have felt alone,” he said, and told the story of the day he went to see The Guns of Navarone. Before the days of text and mobile phone you hand wrote letters when you were away from loved ones, so they wouldn’t feel alone.
Men in the Susquehanna Below the overpass, a dozen men are staggered like a mean bowling split across the shining flats. How can these men be here on a Wednesday morning, fishing for trout? Perhaps they’ve taken the day off from work. Perhaps they don’t have work. They gritted their teeth all winter long, but now they take up hope of plenty, fresh fillets on the grill or fried in popping bacon grease, a freezer full enough to last ’til spring turkey season.
Kennedy Drive The night of the warehouse fire, we all stayed up watching an orange sky twist flame and shadow, flinching with each boom as oil drums succumbed. Maybe we should leave, my mother said. My father—glowing bright, then dim— stared out the window. Listen, you can hear each barrel roll and blow.
Schismatic at a Wedding by the Sea I. I was lost in ribs of stone, fixated on mossy shadows of angels winging from behind your ears. When you said you didn’t trust my eyes, your words bobbed me back from my grave of details, but your breath formed a nettle which made me still more upset: You had drawn attention to yourself by referring —like curtains ungathered in a boat of glass—to a place the sea does not reflect.
Self Conscious gaze / regard The incident is trivial (it is always trivial) but it will attract to it whatever language I possess. (Barthes) She has a seat to herself until the man gets on and mutters to his kid sit by that ugly girl over there.
Ablutions This isn’t how I hoped I’d live my life, suddenly awake as the phone blares disco beats. The iPhone starts to shake with a wheezed malevolence. Deep breath. Slap down a groping hand. Toilet. Toothbrush. Shower. Shave. Each civilized demand feels like a move toward life itself, as warmth courses through the veins.
Frost Advisory Viscous purple light of sundown & the mountains in silhouette. Autumn delivers its ultimatums, & the skeletal magnolia shivers. Every morning this month I’ve filled the bird feeder & by dusk it’s empty again. Scattered on the grass, seed husks & blood splatter; hunger already forgotten in the roughhouse wind.
Laisse-Moi Tranquille Each night I rinse the truck in the depot off Meserole. I nod to the other drivers, tuck my braid in the back of my shirt. A rat floats through the oil. Shoe-trees of metal line the edge of the iris. Knowing you will love me almost kills me.
Her Chair My mother must have been tired of being mother, wife, some patient’s nurse, tired of a house of dust and abandoned appliances drained of their usefulness, of house keys, doormats, throbbing of my father’s TV and ringing telephone, his primitive remote slipping beneath easy chair cushions.