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.
[from Same Old Story (CavanKerry Press, 2014)]
Yesterday evening I received an email from Wesley McNair, Maine's poet laureate, who is organizing the project Poets in Public, a collection of short films featuring a number of Maine poets who will be reading and talking about their work. I'm very happy that he's chosen to include me among these poets, and even happier about the note he sent to me, in which he said that he thinks that Same Old Story "is a wonderful collection, a breakthrough volume." One of the poems he liked best is the one I've just reprinted . . . though it is such a sad and defeated poem, the characters trapped in their fates. I wrote it at a point of community misery: sudden death, persistent self-destruction, the dooms of age and aging. It was one of those poems that I spoke of in yesterday's post--a poem that surfaced from the dark underneath, into which the details that I transcribe every day (lilacs, birds, pickup, wind, sky) entered as a sort of chorus behind the human pain.