there is another person that figures
the sandwich will be tough to bite into and
the road will feel much shorter on the way back.
grief is a shoe, unlaced. all rocks look alike, but you are special.
this person knows that the long trench coat was made for you.
they adore the fit. they see it like a permanent blanket over the body.
the small scrapes in life will become part of the frayed quilt, still unfinished
apparently. the much larger problems will become the sunset, red and drippy.
this person knows the figure eight made with a pencil, encoding infinity
onto our schoolwork, for probable solutions and determination,
was not really to test knowledge, but to scaffold endurance.
this person would like to sleep inside warm thighs.
you have thighs. you have washed the green grapes.
they are ready to be plucked from their stem, rationed
like bad advice, then devoured in seconds.
there too, is a love out there. it is waiting for you, ripe and ready
to be plucked from its dry stem, and rationed, then devoured
only in seconds.
He likes G better with her hair down. The boy tells this to G.
G leaves her hair down and it gets caught in the blender.
She is processing her emotions plus her thoughts about him acting out.
The other day, she sat down to write a poem, and pulled
Back her thin lines of time, and he went, wow. He told G he likes her
Better with her hair up now. In a bun, a ponytail, or two braids.
G could never say it, but she likes him with his hair all self-aware.
Hair that says thank you, and you look beautiful, but
You are the most beautiful beside me. G likes her boyfriend best
With kind hair. Straight and to the point hair. Newton’s law
of gravity hair. What goes up must come back down hair.
Isaac must have been staring at G’s straight, honey mane.
If G’s boy is not careful, Newton might steal his girl, but
G is concerned only with the words of Matthew, specifically
Matthew 5:5. The meek and gentle shall inherit the Earth. G reads
this to the boy. G hopes that the boy will love her like god loves her.
Counting and loving each hair on her head. G raises a thick, wild
Strand of hair up to the light and she sees right through it.
This is the corner store, years gone now, where Mae, her left leg an inch and quarter shorter than the right, would hobble up the narrow and uneven wood floor aisles. She’d fill an order for a kid with mismatched shoes sent, note in hand, on a mother’s errand. Then another for the Camerons, old folks from across the street too infirm to make the seven-block trek uptown to the supermarket. The Stroehmann’s bread push bar, tacked to the wood-framed screen door back before Mae ran the place, is faded from years and use. A lighted Hershey’s Ice Cream sign, turned on in the dusk hours, hangs in the right-side window. On the left are the week’s advertisements printed on rectangles of thin white cardboard: Lebanon bologna, butter, and heads of lettuce are all on special. Just inside the left window, partially hidden by the rack of chips and pretzels, sits the old dark blue metal floor cooler. Once, when you were four, maybe five, your great-grandfather gave you a coin and let you walk a half block down the alley to the store. Your great-grandfather is old, older than Mae, older than the Camerons. You know his name is Jesse, but everyone calls him Poppy. He is the last German speaker in your family, and sometimes says things you do not understand, but when he talks to you, he leans in, like it is a secret, and you understand well enough. After you reach the store, you slide open the hefty lid of the cooler, rummage in its chill and dampness until you find a tall bottle with ridges and a red and white symbol: RC Cola. You give Mae the coin and walk back up the alley, the bottle cold and substantial in your hands. Poppy uncaps it for you, and you sit in a chair next to his in the front yard, feet dangling in the air, while you drink. And now, with all that has come to pass, you understand that those frozen moments are luxury.
A battalion is born
from former police officers,
wear a chevron,
take the patch and medallion.
blood, sweat, and loss.
Shame. I’m in a warm bed.
Despite the seven men of American Legion color guard,
the high school kids’ snare drums and tuba,
one antique fire truck,
and five Cub Scouts with one of the fathers marching alongside,
this poem is longer than the parade.
Wooden bow, arrows, and a gun,
the knife is near a belt.
Once, our childhood was full of fun.
We ran through the fields
with the village neighbors,
taking a sword, a painted shield
without adult worries and labor.
Time has passed,
harsh life befell our fate.
Russian missile strikes rain down,
the heart cherishes pain,