FOUR COUNT THURSDAY
Table club athletes
Waiting for Karen on stairs
Work we do in snow
Sleeping homeless on mattress
Toes hike boots dry
What day is day
And where you do joy in walk
Why each precious step
Through snow walking
Footprints quieting bullshit
17 December 2015
Living from sofa to sofa
the man didn’t know
he was without a home,
neither did the man
who owned the sofa.
16 December 2015
TASKS BEFORE THE DAY
My friend outlines
the day’s chores,
adding, After 2
I’ll write some poems.
15 December 2015
REMEMBERING HYMNS OF A NORTH DAKOTA CHILDHOOD
STAR OF WONDER, STAR OF LIGHT, WHILE AT MY GRAND DAUGHTER’S
PIANO RECITAL 60-SOME YEARS LATER,
I LEAN TOWARDS MY WIFE WITH THE FOUND POEM
I’VE BEEN CARRYING ACROSS TIME WITH THIS CONFESSION
We three kings of orient are,
tried to smoke a rubber cigar,
it was loaded, it exploded,
following yonder star.
14 December 2015
“The heroic singer of tradition is blind. The NEW singer in this present must be sighted.”
Allen Grossman How To Do Things With Tears
“…for he had re-cast within himself all that people understand by losing their bearings.”
Harry Martinson, The Road
Highway 12, washed out, flooded,
keeps me from the mountains
and off skis, waxed with an old iron
and set behind this chair.
You can tell a teacher anything
and I’m writing my fourth grade teacher.
the small 2-winged fly
that swarms near water. They come up
in the Harry Martinson novel, The Road,
that came from interlibrary loan. Hand-made
crafted cigars have just been replaced
by those made by machine—women
make extra money with snuff recipes,
and cigarettes are on their way in.
This is a book about a tramp,
tramping, a vagabond Swede
telling about the America boat.
A million Swedes emigrating
between 1850 and 1913, those years
when prairie towns where I come from
got their start with the railroad.
In that neck of the plains, now,
frakking and diaspora—while in woods
out West everybody’s buying guns.
North Dakotans cradle guns
in pickups because badgers eat grain
bagged but not collected. My children
in marriage fight over owning assault weapons.
You know by now, midges bring
no cause for tears, or rage.
These automatic weapons aren’t on tv news.
Go into the gun shop and put down your money
no questions asked assault rifle placed in your hands
but you can’t walk out with the .45
until you show your concealed weapon permit.
Martinson’s tramp’s name is Bolle.
Cradling the inexpensive binding
with yellowed pages, he speaks across time,
Fear was the world’s greatest problem,
and the tramp’s greatest problem
was the fear of fear. My brother who grew up
in Alabama playing ball, returns in pilgrimage,
tells of two stops—the 16th Avenue Baptist Church,
where Jesus Christ is the Main Attraction,
Birmingham, where the bomb exploded, Sunday,
September 15, 1963, at 10:22 a.m.
killing four young girls in Sunday School,
and the Muscle Shoals Sound Museum
on the Tennessee River, where Rick Hall
recorded Jimmy Hughes singing Steal Away
and Percy Sledge’s When A Man Loves A Woman.
I was 18 years old when that Church was bombed.
This year, 2015, there’s been a mass murder
in these United States of America
every day of the year. Wilson Pickett
recorded the Beatles singing, Hey Jew,
and nobody noticed. Divine some of this
when you throw your I Ching coins.
That teacher in 4th grade. Teacher turned
farmer’s wife—poet who knows small town
sadness and grief, I’ve read her poems,
lines for those who stayed, and the ones who left,
and I’m writing her letters, inspired
in part by that Swedish emigration,
the one going on now, in Syria,
Martinson says Sweden abandoned entire towns.
My teacher, she’s in her 80s now,
Her student, this old man writing,
is nine years old again, bawling
at the teacher’s desk fact-full, delirious
in front of classmates, un-ashamed.
12 December 2015
THIS IS WHAT THE CIGAR MAKERS SAY
It is as though they have been consulting the I Ching.
Whose way is it? Yours? David Hinton’s?
Nothing doing that way. Uh uhh.
Waiting in the Kmart parking lot
for my daughter to drop off my grand daughter
sick with a cold, Grandpa day.
December sun comes up
through Union Gap,
while Leonard Cohen sings,
I’ll be yours for a song.
11 December 2015