Mark Halliday


Divorced Fathers and Pizza Crusts

The connection between divorced fathers and pizza crusts
is understandable. The divorced father does not cook
confidently. He wants his kid to enjoy dinner.
The entire weekend is supposed to be fun. Kids love
pizza. For some reason involving soft warmth and malleability

kids approve of melted cheese on pizza
years before they will tolerate cheese in other situations.
So the divorced father takes the kid and the kid's friend
out for pizza. The kids eat much faster than the dad.
Before the dad has finished his second slice,

Pathos of the Momentary Smile

Like nearly all women under sixty she would have deftly
avoided meeting the eyes of an unknown man —
but occasionally an exception happens by chance
and her unconscious skill at avoidance gets instantly
replaced by a human generosity which is either
inherently feminine or gender-trained, as you please;
she glanced at me exactly when I glanced at her
in the store at the mall and so she gave me
that momentary slight smile which implies
Though many men are dangerous, and I do not intend

Poetry Failure

For example, I wrote my first poem in 1976 about being in the Vermont house
after my mother’ s death; she died the year before;
she loved that house. My father said he kept having moments
of thinking she must have just stepped outside for a minute
to weed the garden or to walk just a little way
along Prospect Street, for a few minutes only and now
almost now she’ d be coming back, we’ d hear the screen door,
Bev would be back and saying something casual about —

The Halls

Five more books in a box to be carried out to the car;
your office door closes behind you and at that moment
you turn invisible — not even a ghost in that hall
from the hall’ s point of view.
If the halls don’ t know you, the halls and the rooms
of the buildings where you worked for seven years —
if the halls don’ t know you,
and they don’ t —
some new woman or two new men come clattering

The Students

The students eat something and then watch the news,
a little, then go to sleep. When morning breaks in
they find they have not forgotten all: they recall
the speckle of words on certain pages of
the chapter assigned, a phrase of strange weight
from a chapter that was not assigned, and something
said almost flippantly by a classmate on the Green
which put much of the 18th century into perspective.
Noticing themselves at the sink they are aware
the hands they wash are the "same" hands

Time in a Brown House

Sam paused on the stairs. He had forgotten a thing.
In Leland’ s room a copy of Thomas Merton lay on the floor.
The air was full of gnats of possibility. What was the story?
Sam looked at the clock twice. The day was dropping
softly away while Sam’ s sneakers made the wood stairs creak.
The wood was sure it was wood. Alice got home from the store.
The bags had to be unloaded as the day went and went.
Then the sundown kitchen grew quiet.
Sam crossed his legs one way, then the other way. He had chosen