No free verser, John Keats,
nor confessional diarist, yet we hear
beneath his ode’s loud swallows
a wet consumptive cough that ran
through father, mother, brothers
and we catch his seductive joke–
his “living hand” that didn’t haunt Fanny
still mocks our timidity. Tireless,
earth’s gravity stalks us, tugs each
hem and cuff, jaw and anklebone.
In Limon, deft women sit in circles
shaping bright trash into bowls,
passing news of deaths, love, births,
and bread in banter by turns sharp
and consoling. From them, I have
not a word–just a basket, green
and red. It holds peaches, bananas
going brown, and a bit of morning light.
offers itself to me again,
having preceded all those
losses by which I slowly learn
that my death will be news
most unsurprising to others.
You recede year by year
reaching through the calendar
twice per annum as days
drift into white erasure.
The war ate at your belly
long after discharge and froze
what might have healed you.
For us, you stayed sober
workdays, chopping steaks
to earn cash, knowing all along
how little you’d ever keep.
Michael Lauchlan’s poems have landed in many publications including New England Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, The North American Review, English Journal, The Dark Horse, Nimrod, Tar River Poetry, Harpur Palate, Southword, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and The Cortland Review. They have also been included in anthologies from WSU Press and Oxford University Press. He has been awarded the Consequence Prize in Poetry and recently been featured in The Writer’s Almanac. His collection, Trumbull Ave, is available from Wayne State University Press.