Another Consideration

Does the sun wake
from its slumber
the same as I
these late fall
mornings?

Frigid, unwilling,
and tired from
the long day gone,
the longer day ahead.
My restless eyes survey

from the window.
I watch brilliant
oranges, reds, yellows
explode over the
horizon,

scathe the sky with
astounding light, and
suffuse a pale pink
film over the entire
neighborhood.

Brother

for Pete Morgan

Brother not in blood;
brother in beats of
heart, in willingness
to crush fear,
strengthen and encourage,
shine slighted armor,
sharpen iron against
iron.

Brother not in blood;
brother in parallel currents
rushing with agility,
sweeping out sediment
beneath our feet and
filling our hearts with
every pain and joy
imaginable.

Tomorrow

It’s decided.
In the morning
I’ll set my alarm
an hour earlier
to buy coffee
and donuts
for myself
and the married
couple I live with.

The sun will greet
me with warmth
and I’ll know
the day is for
coffee and donuts.

Hot, steaming,
French-pressed
coffee. Roasted dark.
And donuts.
Glazed thick.
Freshly fried and
bagged. The oil
spotting through
the bag. Yes,
tomorrow is for
coffee and donuts.

Said That

(For Raymond Carver,
after reading “Fear”
)

I read that poem you wrote
about fear.
Thought about it a while
and read it again.
Took my time.
It resonated with me
in more ways than one.

You know, I’m scared too.
Dammit, Ray, I’ve got fear
of wasting time, allowing guilt
to chase me for all
this impermanent life,
of dereliction dragging
my relationships
down the gutter,
of never marrying,
of marrying wrong,
of never raising children,
of raising children poorly,

and fear of death, too.
I know you’ve said that.
But I’ll say it again
and again.

Time of the Year

Jazz is best heard,
I think, in the fall. There’s
nothing better than waking
to the leaves burning up
red, orange, yellow
and putting the classics on
with a cup of jet black joe.

No, Maybe jazz
is best heard in the winter—
Yes! A way to keep warm
against the snow, slate, and
slanting winds that blow in the
darkened days when all the
leaves have taken their leave.

Come to think of it,
jazz is best heard in the spring.
This I’m sure of.
What pairs better with the fresh
sounds of Shorter on sax
than the rush of blooming
cherry blossoms in the yard?

And yet, maybe Jazz
is best heard in the summer.
Yes, I recall hot, starry nights
spent sweating ‘long side a
sweating six-pack with Afro Cuban
rhythms exploding like fireworks
dancing to a 6/8 rumba.

Floating Coins

In a vacant rose garden
my mother and I sit
on a bench
soaking the precious
October sun rays.

After some silence,
she tells me a story
About her father
who died when I was
two years old.

She tells me she’ll never
forget the time
he jumped into a pool
wearing a full Armani suit,
shoes and all,

to save her life.
I remember drowning,
watching his coins
floating up in the water,

she says.

Why did my grandfather
jump into that pool?
I ask myself this and
continue to consider the clout
of love and fear.

Given Location

Places— those are the hardest
for me.
Those geographic locations
swimming with phantoms
from different lifetimes.

It’s the smell of rooms,
the sound of a quiet bed late at night.
It’s the vacant coffee shop tables,
the wind blowing from the water tower
above town.

There are moments
I can barely swallow it down
thinking on those places,
those phantoms,
those lifetimes I can’t find again.

 

—N.A.