I’ve been busy this week working on a few different writing pieces (to come soon). The poem I’m posting today has had many lives. It would have been my first published poem, had I not scrapped it for a different poem. It sort of has gotten scrapped for first every time and gone on to be second. The funny thing was it was never people’s first pick when I was choosing things. They always had a different favorite, but it was everyone’s second (where the other poems in the running often had one or two people that really loved them and then weren’t on other people’s lists at all). I wrote it in Paris, France. It really was sort of a journal entry. I was 20 years old. So here’s to coming in second, even this morning when I had an essay I’ve been working on, which I was going to post today. The essay was not ready, but this poem always steps in for me.
A night sweat cools,
Some death fills the room,
A freight train crushes a man’s legs,
While a diesel trucker recapitulates his youth
A pink robe is opened
A breast exposed
A man watches his wife disappear
Promising to tune into her words
Through the Ouija board on Halloween.
He was a burned father,
A cooling lover,
A full house in a poker game. She
Cuts some lemons, slices a dream,
The juice runs onto a chair,
Stains the prom dress of a virgin
Whos date has gone bad
Like bananas on the top shelf.
While looking at a small pile of crumbs,
An ingénue begins to see herself,
First it was the screen door left open,
The velvet ropes that restrained,
Then the teeter-totters at the park
Began to symbolize something greater.
Summers jumped rope,
Double-Dutch between the spring and fall
While Catholic school girls in line
Became anxious and boozed
Their ways through
The prayers of removed panties and bras.
Darkness blinks on and off,
Prostitutes on the boulevard unionize,
A Northern man is spring cleaned,
His wife sleeps comfortably
In another man’s promises.
They are making honey in closets,
Secret bees pollinating
Nights with the sweetness of memory.
A wife lies beside her husband
In nightclothes that wish they were a teddy.
She is an air-conditioned lover,
Wishing for an open window man
The bathtub is full,
A poet unloosens his boots,
He flickers the television on,
Waiting for the brainless genocide,
The cuisine of his culture
He remembers in childhood
A day he found a robin egg under
A pine tree in the front yard,
The blue speckled cracked shell,
A treasure placed inside a collection
Of trinkets: collected leaves,
Rocks, and sticks he loved,
Objects he first described before,
He wrote a girl with his hands, before
He spelled death with ease, before
He’d watch the TV and become
Impatient for the words before
God looks away.