Poem of the Fortnight
You can come to me in the evening,
with the fingers of former lovers
fastened in your hair and their ghost lips
opening over your body,
They can be philosophers or musicians in long coats and colored shoes
and they can be smarter than I am,
whispering to each other
when they look at us.
You can come walking toward my window after dusk
when I can’t see past the lamplight in the glass,
when the chipped plates rattle on the counter
and the cinders
dance on the cross-ties under the wheels of southbound freights.
Bring children if you want, and the long wounds of sisters
behind you toward the sea.
Bring your mother’s tense distracted face
and the shoulders of plane mechanics
slumped in the Naugahyde booths of the airport diner,
waiting for you to bring their eggs.
I’ll bring all the bottles of gin I drank by myself
and my cracked mouth opened partway
as I slept in the back of my blue Impala
dreaming of spiders.
I won’t forget the lines running deeply
in the cheeks of the Polish landlady
who wouldn’t let the cops upstairs,
the missing ring finger of the machinist from Spenard
whose money I stole after he passed out to go downtown in a cab
and look for whores,
or the trembling lower jaw of my son, watching me
back my motorcycle from his mother’s driveway one last time,
the ribbons and cone-shaped birthday hats
scattered on the lawn,
the rain coming down like broken glass.
We’ll go out under the stars and sit together on the ground
and there will be enough to eat for everybody.
They can sleep on my couches and rug,
and the next day
I’ll go to work, stepping easily across the scaffolding, feeding
the cable gently into the new pipes on the roof,
like St Francis of the still dark rocks
that disappear under the morning tide,
only to climb back into the light,
sea-rimed, salt-blotched, their patched webs of algae
blazing with flies in the sun.
Audio file: Rob Greene reciting Joseph Millar's poem, "Dark Harvest"