Four Poems by Robert Nazarene

Reflection, #6,189

(Married in America)

I’m having mixed emotions. Like the night

my ex-mother-in-law loopdy-

looped off a cliff

— in my new car,

 

a waste of a perfectly good Volvo.

Volvos seat six.  Plenty of room

for the rest of her Coal-Age

brood — aggressive little pinheads

 

perched in their Lazy-Boys,

grimy as the dirty dishes, the dogs’ bowls,

the cat boxes — piled high

 

in the kitchen stink.

My ex-mother-in-law. The Orbicular.

God rest her sow. She ate

pickled pigs’-feet & drank Miller’s High-Life.

 

beer.    For a living.    And my ex-wife:

we were a match made in Gehenna,

living proof of God’s infinite loving-

kindness — making just 2 people

 

miserable, instead of 4.

If I sound bitter —

it’s because you are. Step aside.

I can’t fucking see myself in the mirror.

Published in Rattle.

Coming To (in) America

It was one of those things

you just have to

believe to see.

Let’s call him, Kenneth —

yes, Kenneth

Oboto —

sitting statue still,

no, say: still as machete death —

in a silk, leopard-skin

tutu blouse and skullcap,

Parade Magazine in hand —

on a green-slatted

Iowa City

park bench,

day-one,

freshman orientation —

like a beautiful, black-eyed

Rwandan pea

on a rolling wave

of new-flaxen corn —

no,

like a black plaster

lawn-jockey —

(caught in the headlights), eyes

wide open onto

James Brady’s Interview

With Dan Rather,

(ruddy, red-blooded, American

as apple pie & shotguns

at a 4th of July

lynching—no,

picnic,

beside the Pedernales —)

Published in Ploughshares.

The Chicago Land

& Title Guaranty Company

I.

Beginning in the southwest corner

of the Southeast Quarter of the Northeast Quarter

of Section 29, Township 31 North, Range 3 East:

 

is a flock of Hampshire sheep —

 

folded into a wooded hollow of fragrant clover & Timothy grasses —

     attended

by an ancient grove of sugar maples:

                                    afloat —

above a rugged tangle of woven-wire stretched from tree-to-tree

connecting a broken spine of stave-bolt fenceposts: all bound together

 

                                    by a handshake.

 

II.

A handshake.

 

Gentle Reader, if you please…the brakes.            Stop.   Stop!

Do I make my point?

 

Nonetheless. Proceed.

 

III.

All this & more — beside a winding, dirt-packed road

once teeming with legions of WPA workers & REA men — real

 

men, courtesy of FDR,

 

who raised the poles & fired the lines

which lighted the night

& caused the stars to dim — & wonder,

 

                        Why?

 

            The lines which

yawned & stretched — then yawned & stretched again

all the way to Chicago/where so many sons & daughters fled

 

by rail

& thumb

& Scenicruiser/into the metal mouth of the city;

 

where adding machines whirred & clicked . . .

& sheaves of paper were shorn

from giant rolls . . .

 

in factories made of brick

& bone . . .

swept along

into the stone precipice

of Michigan Avenue . . .

to this very building, here, (Yes . . . here)

where we stand,

office of:

 

The Chicago Land

& Title Guaranty Company,

where,

with white-starched civility,

all who seek shall find

assurance

 

(Subject to any conflicts, encumbrances, rights-of-way not disclosed in the public records, easements, facts of survey, reservations, mineral or otherwise, any statutory lien[s], or other conditions or effects of law unbeknownst to the company . . .)

 

that:

 

IV.

together,

 

with enamel eyes,

we gaze upon the starless night: flabby, bald, lobotomized,

 

                              adrift —

in a sheepish

 

                              calm . . .

Published in Beloit Poetry Journal.

Dolor

I have known the ineluctable grief of waiting,

the desolation of fluorescence and its quiet

accompanist: the low drone of vending

                                    machinery.

 

The sadness of the silent switchboard;

of sleeping pushcarts, empty reception areas;

            the unending 

tunnelry of immaculate public spaces; the odor of antiseptic,

the pale standard face of nightshift workers; the grey

 

duplication of mornings; the quiet

clatter and clink of the cafeteria — slowly

regaining consciousness.

 

                        Out the window,

on the street below, the clamor of children filling the crosswalk,

crowding the playground.

 

 

 

The baby got sick.

The baby

never woke up.

 

My baby: wrapped in linen,

stiff, still —

 

perfect,

in her box.

Published in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

Robert Nazarene