[a version of this poem appeared in Sou'wester (fall 2011)]
And on her mind is all the waste
and the waiting, and the pain
of wanting someone to listen
to the pain she can’t talk about, like how her lover
is a drunk, and how she is afraid
of time and of her mind
circling its mud-wrenched, idiot track.
And meanwhile a neighbor expires
in a strange bed, little birds
flutter in the bony lilacs,
her lover slides another blank-faced bottle
under the torn seat of his pickup.
Wind blunders among the empty branches,
raking their frail tips against a livid sky.
Another hour lost, she thinks, but hours later,
in the medicated dark, her mind
and what’s on her mind keep ticking, ticking,
stupidly ticking on.