waitress poems

Sunday, June 12, 2005


Until recently, I never understood your friend Bob,
a bright enough guy, but chronically unemployed,
living with his mother at forty-two.
I never understood that somewhere
in the center of their sagging duplex--
beneath stacks of unread magazines, heaped laundry--
behind the dazed eyes of the actors who keep Bob company
on a black and white Zenith in the basement,
lost in the monologues he holds in the dark,
long rants about cosmology, fly fishing, faith,
the father who died of black lung
twenty-five ago still lingers:

In this room, Bob still hears the wind that
slashed through the house one November day.
It was the only time any one could remember
the old man losing his temper--
four kids streaking through the house,
and him exhausted on the couch, sputtering curses
no one thought he knew.

Here beneath the rack of guns with which
he taught his sons to kill only what they could use,
the cough began slowly, insidiously, until
it filled the house, spilling into past and future
with its implacable demand.

Somewhere in the center of this house--
in the cloudy basement where Bob blinks at the women
on MTV, dazzled by the whir and flash
of distant laughter, or in an attic
so cluttered with the litter of ancient preoccupations
it will never be sorted out,
a patient man still struggles for breath
the way he did on their final hunting trip.
Forced to stay behind in camp,
he let his son track the last deer.

Somewhere in the center of an ordinary house
where nothing seems to change,
the quiet of a day in the woods
continues to transfigure your friend Bob:
the shadows, the river, the perfect stillness
of the deer he killed that day--
and his father’s weak smile
when he dragged it back to camp.
It was not the last smile,
nor the last startled deer that Bob
would strap to the roof of his rusted Ford--
just the only one that matters.


  • ...for something in him died with that deer that day.

    i like your poems very much. they are simple and yet so meaningful too.

    "In nineteen years she has never quite freed herself
    from the vulnerability at the nape of his neck
    after a haircut"....bingo!!!

    By Blogger gulnaz, at 5:14 AM  

  • Thanks, gulnaz.

    By Blogger Patry Francis, at 11:58 AM  

  • ...and like Gulnaz i too find myself irresistably drawn towards the vulnerability of those very words..!
    wonderful :)

    By Blogger Pincushion, at 12:05 PM  

  • As good as the others I've read.
    Dark, brooding. Complex. If ever all these get collectively published in a book,
    I'd sure be in the line to buy one.

    By Blogger sigmund fraud, at 5:24 AM  

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