1. The Crash
When all the leaves fall from the banks
and lashing rains like cold tongues wipe
the streets from fail, I listen to news
of a worse world and losses mounting.
There is only so much that can be done.
The towns of our grandfathers, fired
in mud and quick with ideas, come tumbling
back into headlines of insurance fraud
and movie scandal.
There are tractors on farms
that will stop now, and buildings that won’t
or will come down, all depending, let’s see,
on the choices of the private sector. Crowds
huddle on the corner awaiting next morning’s
news, soaked by the passing bus splash
of Tokyo or rusting towns of Great Lakes
where industrial parks won’t go. Didn’t
you always trust her? Didn’t she give you
her word and say this wouldn’t be so?
The digits move and the alarm still rings
but the bed is empty in your eyes
of the future.
2. Lonely Woman
On Columbus before it gets rich,
I pass facades full of beer and stray parts
for old cars by Marvin Gaye Garden. Bleeding
steam, the street’s been cut by the blade
that got me last month. A young woman
screams, “I don’t have it,” into a corner
pay phone, rocking back and forth in the cold.
Then she listens, tears drying white
in the wind. She fists the plexiglass
and shouts, “Look, I don’t have a home
and I got three kids in the car and I don’t
have it.” When she slams down the phone,
it falls and hangs,
dangling and twisted.
She hurries to her car, puffing gray exhaust,
parked illegal, three kids in back, two
of them strapped squirming in baby seats.
Shame is too easy for what I feel, agreeing
with her, united in falling apart. The car’s
an old taxi, fading and unmarked. When she
throws it into drive, it seizes and stalls,
as the lights turn red, one after another.
3. Lookout for Hope
Clouds uncertain of their futures
are what I find at the bar tonight.
Perry and Danny do their Irish routine
for the regulars. With the holidays so close
waitresses stop dreaming of auditions
and sweep tips off tables like toll collectors.
Both TVs show sports, one college football
and one the nighttime sulkies. No one
cares. We settle for the vague abstract glow
and thank the gods for heat.
of the bottle as it doesn’t smash against
the glass window is what I feel tonight.
The ash in the tray, the jukebox that doesn’t
play and isn’t here, is what I feel. Young men
in Polo sweaters insult their girlfriends
and everybody laughs. It doesn’t have to be
this way and the world has half a chance
is what I say to no one. I drink what’s left
and refuse all offers, thinking hope travels
faster than the speed of light and slower
even slower than time.
4. To Drop at the Cry of a Hat
At the scratch of your keys on my door,
thrown in anger, or the way you touch
your head when it hurts, under my eyelids
at night you dance so splendidly still,
in the ache of the sun slipping down,
and morning cold so metal it hurts,
to the turn of your body on the street,
dancing away again and waving hello
is goodbye, to opera in bed and the crumbs
of divorce, for the part of you I could
not touch and
the part of you I touched,
for the horses that want your ride or legs,
and the boys in their line expecting a turn,
in the dull of the night when the phone
rings once and not again, in the fall
from grace that makes me stand, still,
at the thought of a number, an awning,
a walk up the stairs to a sticky lock
that always opened, comes the beat
of my eyes in the cry of my life,
alone, and disappearing.