LIVES OF THE POETS
Tom, folding his flag over his mattress,
coming into winter shelter at the Church,
says he lost his gloves today, Somebody
needed them more than I did,
he says. Opening the night shelter
is the first time I've been out all day,
holed up in my room with my friend's
sermons on the anguished heart--
Atonement--through the eyes
of Kierkegaard. I'm in a lousy mood
all day, to use a word common
to my father, (one that hasn't crossed
my lips for decades), and I hear
his voice and my mother's pain
in the same moment. "...Get men
to judge to get them out of their masks,"
the brave pastor quotes his mentor.
How inventive, my own hidden inwardness
and rascality--how vulnerable--I am
creation in cover-up. Geronimo
has returned to claim his bed
by the door. Each night two men
permitted showers. Who's
going to rub my feet tonight?
is the lone, sweet call from
the corner in the fellowship hall
as the men, exhausted from a day
of surviving, put sheets over plastic
mattresses after spraying them with 409.
I am the most restless traveler. God
of my North Dakota childhood sees
my every thought, the only one who knows.
5 December 2016