I Saw Your Blue Taurus
When I rounded the corner,
a blue Taurus just like yours
pulled into the parking spot
next to my stomach.
The left tire stopped inches
from the curb of my tongue.
My words wanted to climb in
as if it were you
and your blue Taurus
coming to take me to the Dog’s Head
rocks of the Lamoille River
to make our minds green with the forest.
Our lives were like the water
squeezing through narrow rocks.
The gushing sound, always there.
Can’t talk over it,
just listened to each other’s faces.
The language of moon and leaf,
Your blue Taurus knows the way.
Five Quiet Squirrel Disquisitions
1. I travel the freeways of trees.
Branches dart like lightning;
I leap from strike to strike.
2. A man sits beneath my sycamore
writing in his book.
His thoughts scuttle like ants
and caterpillars across the page.
3. Raccoons sneak in the doggy door at night.
They wash their hands in the water bowl
and eat the leftover dog food. And so they go,
from house to house.
4. A woman sleeps with her mouth open.
She wakes with a fright
when I claw up the wall.
5. This maple is not her tree:
The carved heart has a P and a K
but that doesn’t really matter.
after Pentti Saarikoski
When I get on the bus,
the driver is alone.
I sit in the first seat to keep him company.
What time did you start this morning?
How many runs do you do a day?
Do you ever change routes mid-shift?
I see his brow furrow in the mirror,
I am embarrassed by my questions.
I think I should just shut up, and do.
I can’t tell if the bus driver is relieved or not.
He probably doesn’t give a shit one way or the
other and doesn’t return my small talk
with more than single syllable simian grunts.
Embarrassing, the lone passenger
on a big empty bus. Holding a bag
of groceries on my lap.
I get to my mother’s house
and put the bag on the table.
I give her a hug and sigh
into her shoulder.
As I leave through her front door,
I look around to make sure the neighbors
aren’t throwing spears at me
with their disapproving glares: embarrassing,
a grown man going to his mother for sympathy,
Two more people are on the bus.
What a relief. I sit across from them.
One disagrees with the other
about their aunt’s last wishes and turns to look
out the window. She squints her eyes tightly
like the bevel of a fine blade.
The other glowers at me with her daggers.
I shift my gaze to their feet
bound tightly in their shoes.
I return home. My wife wants to know
when I will finish chopping the pile of wood.
I can’t tell her to back off
and have to come up with an answer.
“Saturday.” She hands me the ax
anyway. I go to the pile
but I don’t stop. I keep going.
Back on the bus, the two sisters are here
again. I say hello to the driver; he returns with
“Afternoon.” looking at his mirrors.
I walk past the women, “Hello again.”
The one is still looking out the window.
The other smirks at me.
I move to the back of the bus.
We three get off together.
As I reach for the handle by the back door,
my hand brushes one of them
and presses the soft flesh of her breast.
I say “Excuse me” and divert my eyes,
stumbling out of the bus.
They start calling me names,
the bus driver, too. I don’t look back.
I keep my head down and walk
to my girlfriend’s apartment.
Embarrassing, a married man
seeking the comfort of a girl-child.
But still, I enter her building,
run up the stairs, down the
hallway, and straight up her thigh—
shelter from the Barbarians.