By Jason Irwin
Poem for Gerry or, the Poet Goes Walking in His Backyard
The Jays & Wrens sing his legend.
The furry creatures call him saint, moonstruck
uncle. He Who Dresses like a Windy Day,
while the gnomes cast eyes of caution
whenever he moves through the tall grass,
murmuring his strange benedictions,
his elegies to ribwort & tree bark.
Each night they watch as he recedes
like the sun, behind the doors of his domicile.
Each morning they gather like soporific pilgrims
waiting for him to come forth.
Early Morning in the Old Town
for August Kleinzahler
The 5am west-bound CSX rattles the loose-fitting panes.
The cries and giggles of three Puerto Rican girls
walking to school echo between apartment buildings
& Chestnut trees. On the corner of 6th & Main
Mr. Nasca croons All of me, why not take all of me,
as he sweeps the sidewalk in front of the convenience store
he's owned since time began. The entire town -- derelict & crumbling,
yawns beneath a smoke-gray sky, while the aroma
a fresh-brewed coffee wakes me & I rub my eyes
to find my mother, still in her nightgown, standing on the balcony,
staring out into the distance, as a shard of sunlight
rests on the swollen knuckles
of her left hand like an injured bird.
I've become a stranger here, just another vaguely familiar forehead
passing through, trying to recapture some lost part of himself –
an expression, or feeling trapped between tibula & funny bone, breath
on glass. Something I can call my own.
Sometimes We Wake Transformed
In the ancient courts, generations of Henrys
proclaimed: “We are the center of the universe.”
Yet the moon people have moved among us
since Noah’s time. Experts in camouflage,
their lunar citadels look like nothing more
than sky. And the sun,
the sun is just a love-starved girl,
dancing among the clover and dandelion fields.
Sometimes we wake transformed
into driftwood washed ashore. We wait for hours,
weeks even, for someone to rescue us –
a college professor, or old poet like Robert Bly,
someone to carry us home & polish us into walking sticks
or eccentric sculptures to stand alongside
dusty tomes on Norse mythology & geometry, mint tins
from St Gallen & Tangier.