Poetry

  • Beetle

    Imagine that Beetle, your first love,
    all honeyed curves and chrome,
    droning up the Romanjia mountain road.

    You, half hanging from the wheel
    trailing sunlight and fag ash
    in the first days of Spring.

    Old snow by the highway
    the pine-sap smell, resin-clear
    and hungry. How the engine

    throbbed like a heart, how
    your whole frame moved
    just inches from the road.

    Do you recall the snow?
    How late it stayed,
    how it dazzled the crumbling

    water-lit curves
    hung piercing clear
    from the peaks of Trebovic?

    How young your heart
    seemed then;
    how un-mined and joyful.

    Picture now that Beetle
    long years from that yearned-for
    pre-war Spring, chugging

    cheerfully up Romanija mountain.
    How you, half-asleep and smoking
    swerve sharply to avoid

    the still-smoking char
    of an upturned Beetle
    curled up like a child by the roadside.

    How you, faced with the mirror image
    of yourself, of your life on its side,
    in that instant decipher

    the hastily replaced gravel,
    those wires hanging low
    from the torn edge of the tree.

    How you, in that sudden hush,
    that briefest match-flame
    of a moment,

    slide the wheel right
    put your foot to the floor
    and keep on driving.

  • Aftershock

    Armin lets them in on the secret.

    Pick a line or shape to brace,
    now wait. There it goes!

    A teaspoon stung in a jump

    then the first dust spindled
    from the fan on the ceiling.

    Now roar and window gape
    the cut glass rain on rain

    and suddenly the sky spills
    in through the wall

    in through the hard padding
    of the cranium.

    As it all subsides
    he’s focusing every molecule

    on the light of the late afternoon,
    how the hours part cloud,

    bring the dying sun to his knees
    in the aftershock of her breathing.


  • The Lesson

    Prisoners being counted in the chill of the schoolyard.
    Hasan barely raising his eyes, ticking them off one by one,
    noting buckles, collar-badges, the scuff-marks

    of artillery duty, the level-eyed specific fear of the taken.
    Some have holes in their boots. Others are bandaged
    around the ankles or the eyes, their extremities the first

    to go, to force the knees up under the chin.
    Two lines are being formed beside the rusted posts
    of an old goal, the clean-shaven and the Orthodox.

    They meet in the penalty box, casting about
    for the familiarity that has suddenly proved a deserter
    in a yard only minutes from home.

    He has drifted off with his satchel held high, too young for mischief.
    A ghetto-blaster is playing Sunny Afternoon by the Kinks.
    They’re kids, someone says. Don’t do this to them.


  • The Fisherman

    The fisherman knows the question,
    can estimate the arc, line and circumference of it,

    knows how best to bait and weigh
    the giant interrogative, send it flashing

    quick across the water. A wait, a flick
    and there she lies, sleek as an unspent shell,
    an answer in miniature.

    He stands a moment, consumed
    by her beauty, by her subtle perfection.
    The fisherman knows she must go back;

    She does not belong with death,
    history, or corporeal matter.

    With care the fisherman bends,
    unclasps his hand, and sets her free.

    Then off he goes,  a little wiser perhaps,
    but still fishing. Singing his way upstream.