In their personal sweatshirts, grownups are humming and reading.
The day has arrived, swinging from the garbage truck -
soon the eggs will run
into the hash browns and bacon,
dogs will chase themselves to sleep,
and tens will lie with twenties in the purses of the paid.
I love you.
Let us wade through
the spills and slicks
to our bodies, beached and rhymed.
By trains, the day arrives.
Grownups are pillaging the sofas for bus fare,
desperate, checking the clock, its crucifix.
In the flightpath, mixed emotions:
heartache, and something like happiness.
Do you love me?
When the fossil fuels are gone, we shall see.
Simple math: 10¢ wings = 1 Happy Hour.
At the bar the early drinkers roost.
Whose wings are theirs?
If I could be the streetlamp on your corner
you could stumble safely
from your day
to the doorway of the kneeling bus.
(O let me be.)
The billboards would go by like clouds.
And then at home,
we would name our next dog Pavlov
and ring the bell that we call love.
A picnic in the woods, above a golf course:
beer in a can in a paper bag
but better cheese, and oranges,
and bread so fresh it tastes alive.
(You taste alive.)
Between two solitary, well-positioned Bradford pears
the duffers arrive like Rommel,
standing in their vehicles, pointing.
They stop, they swing, they leave.
More beer? Love makes a game
of what other people play.
Across our towel tablecloth
we drink to the smells,
to the golf carts
whizzing over hillocks and down dales
like words through a conversation planned.
(In the gap
between the picture and the sound,
you take my hand.)
There are leaves in your hair:
I like them there.
Driving before the storm,
private houses sketched in, crosshatched.
A crow atop a telephone pole.
Blocks and subdivisions, the perpendicular, the sprawl.
In the late 19th century light
on a strip mall sign,
silver darkens to tin.
On the highways, the grownups
ride casino buses,
greet every tollbooth with a cheer.
On the side of each bus,
a vista of the Rocky Mountains,
a cloud for every window, a cloud to look through -
and more clouds
embroidered on a widow's lucky skirt.
(When the weather changes, so do I.)
I love you.
Will you meet me at the flower store
outside the station, underneath the awning
painted like a bower in bloom?
I´ll be there come 6:15.
At the kitchen table, in T-shirts and housecoats,
the day folded and left on a seat on the train,
are humming, and rolling up their dimes.
Do you love me?
There are lilies on the median,
impossibly, too thin —
let us make a plan to see them
before they are gone, and go.
Alan Michael Parker is the author of Days Like Prose, The Vandals, and Love Song with Motor Vehicles (now available from BOA Editions Ltd). In April 2003, he received the 2003 Lucille Medwick Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America. He is co-editor of The Routledge Anthology of Cross-Gendered Verse and Who's Who in 20th Century World Poetry. His poems are forthcoming in American Poetry Review, DoubleTake, The New Republic, and The Paris Review. His book and art reviews appear regularly in Salon.com, The Charlotte Observer, and The New Yorker. He is an associate professor of English at Davidson College, N.C., where he directs the program in Creative Writing, and a Core Faculty member in the low-residency M.F.A. Program at Queens College.