A Man Who Told the Truth: 5 Poems

by

 

These revised poems Copyright © 2010 by Michael Smetzer

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

A Quiet Man
 
What I ate for supper turned my urine orange.
If I were a braggart:
 
      I could startle old men in courthouse johns.
      I could tell weeping women I had given them
            disease.
      Believers could come to me to bathe and be
            healed.
 
But I am a quiet man.
I will piss in pop bottles to leave on the steps
 
for your children.
 

(first published in Cottonwood Review’s Open House)

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

The New Arrival
 
A green flag in his pocket.
A breath mint in his mouth.
Standing like a new rake
beside the garden display.
 
He might have descended from
a Polish miller or a Roman Caesar
who straddled Gaul with his legions.
But he is a pair of J.C. Penney loafers,
slacks by K-Mart.
 
The courthouse has burned down on his past.
Good-bye to a great grandmother,
who may or may not have had
a mole on her neck like his.
The old gray chest in the U-Haul
is only full of jeans.
No shards of pottery.
No arthritic bones.
 
 
(first published in Hanging Loose)
 
**************
 
My Last Race
 
I reached the finish before the others,
but my wife was not looking,
my son was in the john.
 
Suddenly the stretched line
was my only dimension,
and I moved along that line
like a bead along a string.
 
Runners broke through
like sparks across a tunnel
I could never leave.
 
 
(first published in Cottonwood Review)
 
**************
 
You Tell Me You Love a Wife Beater
Divorced Three Times
 
The sabre still rises through the air
in the memory of his third wife
as he chases her from their house
and two blocks down the street.
 
There he collapsed and you found him,
crying and impotent,
a little boy with a thin wet beard.
So you took him home.
 
You hung his sabre above the sofa.
You rocked and sang him to sleep.
 
But he has grown stronger
and he no longer cries and pleads.
He pushes you out of your bed.
Shouts summon you in the night.
 
One day you return to find
the sabre vanished from the wall.
Out back you see him practice
on the saplings in your yard.
 
*
 
Once a woman who had lost her child
found a baby wolf and brought it home.
She didn’t think of pain
until the teeth began to nurse.
 
 
(first published in Kansas Quarterly)
 
**************
 
A Man Who Told the Truth
 
A man who told the truth
wouldn’t say much.
He’d sit all day and watch his life.
Sometimes he’d pick up a stick
and break it.
Maybe he would sit on a log
and watch the oaks
or on a park bench in some quiet town.
He might walk around some city
stepping over cracks.
 
It wouldn’t really matter.
If he were to tell the truth
what could he say?
That spring leaves are green
and winter leaves are brown?
That children run in circles
while old men walk straight lines?
That cities are full of cracks?
 
 
(first published in Wind)
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