1. DATURA JAZZ
Back creaky, I yank up grasses,
see a datura, white with a purple throat,
beside a wilting tomato. Two years
since a datura performed here, yet
what a splendid job of surprise.
Weeding, like sorting hundreds
of papers that all look alike-
this datura, sprouting from hard ground,
lively, a jazz singer hitting
every impossible note--
I weed harder, hum along.
2. DINDI AND THE DEER
"We can't use you,"
the bar owner says as I pack up.
Cursing, I get in the car, drive
several miles, hit a small deer
that darts out. Now what?
This road's empty,
tourists under the bridge.
An early snow. I can't just
leave it to die-
or can I? Drivers hit them
all the time. I swerve around
the body, feel like I'm leaving
a crime scene, turn up the radio--
Tammy Wynette, "Til I Get It Right."
I performed that years ago, before
"We can't use you"
became a quick goodbye.
I killed tonight
and went on. My apartment's
right where I left it. Though
it seems to be floating.
3. DINDI CLOSE UP
I bought Frankie Valli's
Close Up for 35 cents in
a Marquette resale shop.
Ghosts of men who drowned
in Lake Superior
walk the streets, hunch over
diner stools. Back home
I played it over and over,
decided it was the most romantic
album I'd ever heard. At 18
I wanted romance--to eat a bowl
of Wheat Chex and look across
the table to see another bowl
of Wheat Chex. By 21,
my body had left me for another.
And another. When I'd hear
Frankie sing "My Eyes Adored You,"
I felt like I did when I saw
my baby shoes in my parent's house.
I still play the album,
just less often.
4. END TIMES
Like rapids, prophetic books come
faster and faster-having botched
the Earth, we dine on extinction.
Or religion. Look up,
the aging post-drugs rock singer says
on stage. He's returning. He means Jesus,
I think. Or the scientist who bites
into a lemon wedge and pours
over Greenland's going glaciers.
23 feet the sea will rise,
goodbye New Orleans and Bangla Desh.
Humankind is a flat tire. We
can't be pumped up yet again.
Or not. We might morph into machines,
download our brains,
shake off flesh,
head to other worlds, leave
our trees. May mornings
when the first tulips bloom.
5. LONG POEM
Pennsylvania is long, Philly
to Pittsburgh, the highway a toothache,
dentist closed. Sometimes we
get along. Peggy Lee sings
"Longings for a Simpler Time"--
no simple time. I long for a long
stretch of Texas bluebonnet blue,
My seventh-grade science teacher,
tall Mr. Pentner, looked very long--
chemistry felt long. Speaking of
the long-winded, a politician,
like a MacDonald's cup,
just blew in. Don't be long.
Don't belong. George sang,
and he's dead-death is quite long-
no legs are long enough to outrun it.
Sometimes winter feels long,
like icicles grow in my eye lids,
not melting even when the first
hellebores show off long pink overcoats.
This poem is running long.
Homer says, keep going, poems
should be long. I can get along
with dusk, her orange goldfish in
a pond sky, her long face
when she sees a long night ahead,
a long red vine holding its first hours.