Mark Halliday


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 —