Steve Langan



These frail barkers have sharpened windpipes.
The angry man is afraid of dogs.
So is the policeman. He cannot tell
his partner; she is enamored of him,
exiled, thoughtful, suicidal, coy.
Even the sexual lesson is hidden.
I’ve tried to be a good provider.
Long ago, I held her, my victim.
She looked so happy in cuffs I fastened
the leg irons; the antiquated need
for sympathy, then I brewed coffee—
it was late morning.

All this is recurrring in the front
of the brain. The Herald is spread
on the floor. Sounds I heard,
stories, gestures, science, cosmologies…
I walk from bureau to bedside.
I’m going out for a walk. (Okay.)
Pick up some milk—skim. (I will.)
We whisper, we admire veterans,
recite halves of sonnets, try personae,
bake pork chops, yum yum, mushroom gravy.
Hold each other, rub shoulders, are victims,
bait, test atmospheres. All the while
the radio in the background, drum-beat
in the back-brain. All my life
the dial please to another station. (Driving
alone is better, for this reason and others.)
All this time the precise mood for the natural
humming to release—oh my God, I
said it, did they hear it, was it true?…

I hoped I could go on proving
this a fiction the teachers made us
start daydreaming at our desks,
in Mathematics, during Geometry,
drawing parallelograms
on light blue drafting paper.