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Michael Lauchlan

Michael Lauchlan has contributed to many publications, including New England Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, The North American Review, Louisville Review, Poet Lore, and Lake Effect. His most recent collection is Trumbull Ave., from WSU Press.


Consider an arc crossing the cosmos
nine billion light years away
a bit of order making the chaos

spookier             Consider a small boy
flying through a park                   chasing two
huskies               one with gray eyes

The boy’s not calling their names
simply running and waving a strap
while his dogs scamper away

and don’t even stop to sniff
my own tame hound               Who gives
a child such a task               For a while

I follow at a distance               then
cut the angle toward pines
and brush–home to rabbits
that might draw the truants

The gathering dark               of course
swallows the trio               leaves me
another sad adult lagging behind
staring up at stars I can’t name

World News Tonight

An inch of snow fell yesterday,
illumined the branches of trees,
erased curbstones, and covered the trash

that blows through the park. Tonight
has lost its edges and joined
a thousand years of nights. A scent

composed of leather and sweat
rises when I shoulder a door,

wanting in, or maybe wanting out
of rain and wind, out of a vacancy
I’ve learned to inhabit. Voices leak

down the hall from a half-lit kitchen
where someone is frying onions. Maybe
also a bit of beef and something sweet.

I slip out of wet shoes and enter
a dream past which is not

only mine. The tale’s more
than one family’s wars, trials,
and steerage berths. This frozen night

joins with other nights, the haunts
of a billion ragged dreamers,
selves adrift in a moving world.

Standard Changes

After “Nature Boy”

For lousy pay, I drove a van
between Detroit and Wapakoneta, Ohio,
spinning it once in a white-out storm
and sliding up the Luna Pier exit

to stamp and thaw among lost souls
in the moon’s damp firehouse. Later,
I shot weddings, shingled roofs, herded

children and was called, in each job,
by a different name. Adrift. While
he wrote about love, eden abhez

and his family camped out below
the Hollywood sign in forties L.A.
Today, they’d be jailed. Picture his wife
braving the wind on dry nights.

Maybe she was the visionary.
What do I know? I’m tone deaf,
sipping coffee and reading wikis
amid the tremors of another time.

Only that he moved west and changed
his name and slipped a hit to Nat Cole.
That they had to track him down
to sign the record contract. That we want

to unravel love, to get it or save it,
though everything leads to return,
love evaporating and falling like rain,

like snow, while we turn wheels
into swerves and utter strange
bird cries, waiting for a crunch.


after a line from Williams

The places we visit are new
versions of our city–streets we knew
house by house           elm by oak
an alley where the phone pole
marked an end zone             a park
on a river where mailboats docked
between runs to slow freighters
What was our town and what
might be draw together like lovers
in a doorway             lips joining them
for a beat after arms and linked
hands release             After sirens             a rapt
child pulls her face from a window
and leaves a faint             warm
convolution on the glass