I rarely do two poems by the same poet in a row, but I came across this poem from James Galvin’s latest book and really like it.
I thought this poem by James Galvin would be appropriate for today.
WAITING FOR THE NEW ice age to come along
Like a dawdling child from a previous eon,
Waiting for the homeless man to go on home
With his tired cardboard sign that says “anything helps,”
Waiting for a cure, waiting for the closeout sale,
The black sail, a new tarboosh and a tiny red car,
A new improved and safer war,
A harmless war, a war that we could win,
A brain tumor in your smart phone, an entitlement check
(Will you please check on my entitlement?),
Waiting for the bank hack, the backtrack, the take,
Waiting for a calabash, the calaboose, an acquisition,
An accusation, resuscitation from a total stranger,
Waiting for the finish line to explode.
James Galvin, from Everything We Always Knew Was True
Even though it’s a holiday, it’s still Monday. Larry doesn’t like holidays now that he’s retired. There’s no mail. Things are closed. Too many people everywhere. They should be at work, he thinks.
Another very plain speaking person is James Galvin. This is one of my favorite poems of his:
Against the Rest of the Year
The meadow’s a dream I’m working to wake to.
The real river flows under the river.
The real river flows
Over the river.
Three fishermen in yellow slickers
Stitch in and out of the willows
And sometimes stand for a long time, facing the water
Thinking they are not moving.
Or watching the West slip through our hopes for it,
We’re here with hay down,
Starting the baler, and a thunderhead
Stands forward to the east like a grail of milk.
The sky is cut out for accepting prayers.
Believe me, it takes them all.
Like empty barrels afloat in the trough of a swell
The stupid bales wait in the field.
The wind scatters a handful of yellow leaves
With the same sowing motion it uses for snow.
After this we won’t be haying anymore.
Lyle is going to concentrate on dying for a while
And then he is going to die.
The tall native grasses will come ripe for cutting
And go uncut, go yellow and buckle under snow
As they did before for thousands of years.
Of objects, the stove will be the coldest in the house.
The kitchen table will be there with its chairs,
Sugar bowl, and half-read library book.
The air will be still from no one breathing.
The green of the meadow, the green willows,
The green pines, the green roof, the water
Clear as air where it unfurls over the beaver dam
Like it isn’t moving.
In the huge secrecy of the leaning barn
We pile the bodies of millions of grasses,
Where it’s dark as a church
And the air is the haydust that was a hundred years.
The tin roof’s a marimba band and the afternoon goes dark.
Hay hooks clink into a bucket and nest.
Someone lifts his boot to the running board and rests.
Someone lights a cigarette.
Someone dangles his legs off the back of the flatbed
And holds, between his knees, his hands,
As if they weighed fifty pounds.
Forever comes to mind, and peaks where the snow stays.