Midwestern

What Work Is

We stand in the rain in a long line
waiting at Ford Highland Park. For work.
You know what work is — if you’ re
old enough to read this you know what
work is, although you may not do it.
Forget you. This is about waiting,
shifting from one foot to another.
Feeling the light rain falling like mist
into your hair, blurring your vision
until you think you see your own brother
ahead of you, maybe ten places.
You rub your glasses with your fingers,
and of course it’ s someone else’ s brother,

Things

What happened is, we grew lonely
living among the things,
so we gave the clock a face,
the chair a back,
the table four stout legs
which will never suffer fatigue.

We fitted our shoes with tongues
as smooth as our own
and hung tongues inside bells
so we could listen
to their emotional language,

and because we loved graceful profiles
the pitcher received a lip,
the bottle a long, slender neck.

enough food and a mom

The dad. body has just enough gravy on his plate
to sop up one piece of bread. So, enough for one
supper, says the mom. She comes back to him, says
don’ t argue with mom, you’ re a ghost. There’ s enough
water around to drown a cob in its husk. in a dad. He puts
up weather stripping all night. to keep out the mom. He says

Baby Villon

He tells me in Bangkok he’ s robbed
Because he’ s white; in London because he’ s black;
In Barcelona, Jew; in Paris, Arab:
Everywhere and at all times, and he fights back.

He holds up seven thick little fingers
To show me he’ s rated seventh in the world,
And there’ s no passion in his voice, no anger
In the flat brown eyes flecked with blood.

On the Meeting of Garcia Lorca and Hart Crane

Brooklyn, 1929. Of course Crane’ s
been drinking and has no idea who
this curious Andalusian is, unable
even to speak the language of poetry.
The young man who brought them
together knows both Spanish and English,
but he has a headache from jumping
back and forth from one language
to another. For a moment’ s relief
he goes to the window to look
down on the East River, darkening
below as the early night comes on.
Something flashes across his sight,
a double vision of such horror

Left Hand Canyon

The Rev. Royal Filkin preaches
tomorrow on why we are sad.
Brethren, Montana’ s a landscape
requiring faith: the visible
government arrives in trucks,
if you live out far enough.
If you live in town, the government’ s
gone, on errands, in trucks.

Let citizens go to meetings,
I’ ll stay home. I hate a parade.
By the time you get the trout
up through the tiny triangular
holes in the Coors cans, they’ re so
small you have to throw them back.
Glum miles we go
to Grandmother’ s house.

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