Report to the Air: Four Dark Poems

by
 
 

 These revised poems Copyright © 2010 by Michael Smetzer

 

***************

Report to the Air
 
There was your yard and your old house
and your two dogs.
And I was sitting on the rusty tub
we moved in from the farm.
There was your father with no fingers,
your mother opening beer.
And we all sat outside in Kansas
without you.
 
Today a neighbor brought a pie.
Someone you knew came to adopt your cat.
 

(first published in Hanging Loose)

 
**************
 
Apple Trees
 
Suicide is private.
Your students and teachers
        are not invited.
You are alone in an old truck
        with the light on
and the needle touching your vein,
and you don’t want to die,
and the needle depresses your skin.
You think of someone you loved
as the ripple runs up your arm,
and you want to cry.
You want your friends to bleed.
 
In the turning of the world,
you smell gasoline, and dust,
and somewhere, apple trees.
 

(first published in Kansas Quarterly)

 
**************
 
A Long Street
 
When I am walking at night and my shadow stops,
it is too late to turn back.
I scuff my shoes on the concrete.
 
Around the water tower nighthawks are dipping for moths.
I gaze at the lights,
and there is nowhere to go.
 
I sit on the curb and stare down the street.
It is a long street of houses and yards and parked cars.
There is nowhere it will take me.
 
My shadow lies on the concrete like paint.
It has stuck to my shoes,
and I can’t kick free.
 
Across the street a dog barks through a fence.
No one comes to the door.
He sniffs and wags his tail.
 
In my pockets, I have four dimes and a set of keys,
but there is nothing to buy
and no door my keys will open.
 

(first published in Cottonwood Review)

 
**************
  
Leaving Town
 
I want the route that opens in winter.
So I will need gloves
and if it is very cold, mittens over gloves.
I will wear a hat with furry flaps
and as many socks
as will fit in my boots.
 
At dusk I will walk north
to Carter’s produce stand
and cross the highway to a small wood.
This is the place.
By day the whole wood is seen from the road,
but at night the lights will not find me.
 
I will take off my coat and sit down.
The gloves and the hat stay on.
I won’t be brought back
without fingers and ears.
Besides, the beauty is to leave all at once,
not from the extremities in.
 
You might leave on a starry night,
imagine your rise into space.
But I fear what’s open,
and why be afraid?
I’ll leave in the snow,
under the branches of trees.
 
What they find the next morning
will be frozen and neat.
Why spoil someone’s day?
They can thaw it out when they’re ready;
it won’t stink.
Quiet and dark, my route out of town.
 

(first published in Cincinnati Poetry Review)

 
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