Terrain.org Columns.
View Terrain.org Blog.





Robert Lietz


One Great Love

For Rudy West, The Five Keys

     The furniture's out doors it couldn't possibly
have squeezed through     -- 1951 --
and watched by these four guys holding parts
/this fifth on lead     -- days
it's too hot to swim or thinking of swimming even --
eyeing the neighborhood's old sport --
the pillows and pine bedboards     -- divan
and console radio     -- chest drawers
like any other curb's-edge

     And no one     -- leaving the rooms where dreams
were warmly drawn on --
no one's expecting bonuses     -- their voices
and his alone     -- promising
the air their own and something more from all of them --
from even the least     -- off-key and amateur --
off to the side and sweetening the Beach Street stoops
with whisperings     -- adding his own shy ease --
his own street-wide and step-down poetry --
to the love-songs five kids drew
from their sad pockets.

     So what if he sings till all the Upstate flattening's
smoothed over?

     So what if it's loads of brick ahead     -- this
lavender Baby stencilled keen
on ebony     -- and somewhere Ohio's listening --
1998     -- and Rudy's been dead
since spring     -- far from the parlors rain had had
advantage of?  Someone
in Ohio's listening     -- driving the barreled hills --
and feeling the sun catch up     -- bright
on this rise and next rise east of Mansfield
/filling the downslope shade
with morning orioles
and wrens.


     But who had predicted ostriches     -- had
dreamt these llamas
grazing the fenced grounds by the shade trees -
expected a truck like this --
still around and serviceable     -- 1998     -- these
fall-paled lives      -- like souvenirs
and juvenalia     -- dressed as they are
with moonbright piercings
and body art?


     It's 1998.  And Rudy West     -- since spring --
and here in the fragrant dreams
and here in this cousin closeness to the corners --
reduced to ideas     /less -
to filings and less     -- to serifs with loss
and less     and even less
than alphabets!

     This autumn will take some listening.  And these voices --
bathwater warm almost to touch!

     He's speaking one name then all of them.
And maybe the light     -- the singers
trading leads     -- for all of their talents --
might forgive --
these voices the morning moon steps to --
pleased to be near
in its slow striding into cloud-light     -- voices
that keep him listening --
singing along off-key and even less
that amateur --

     not that you'd know one name from Gerald Gregory's
or Pookie's     -- from
Eugene Mumford's     -- stepping
forward with the larks --
arriving as fall arrives     -- reduced
as the cold itself --
as the cold flames in ruins and city breezes
cutting figures --
the cold mechanics of first light --
reduced to less than rock
and sea-bottom


Concert Holiday

"So why not be thinking snow and Turbans in Ohio?"

     I'm driving this same route east
I've driven weekly
for eight seasons     -- enjoying their stories
and our own --
this voice when the sax implodes
/when the route
that elbowed deferentially to grave-markers
straightens and climbs
and crests     -- bringing me home to you
another Friday
over glazing     -- with Pittsburgh ahead for us --
with the Flamingos
/Dells     -- The Penguins and More's
evening meals we can count on --
with Soldiers and Sailors Hall
/the lift and surprise ahead --
at fifty     /building


     I think how the hands grown stiff setting up the splitters
relax in the warmth
and light and the desire left to them
the split-wood's adequate     -- warming
these homes
the lingering autumn warmth inspired --
dressed up with wreaths
/with live-roping     -- with children to welcome home
from shoulders and low places --
at work as they were this afternoon --
recovering the ditch-trash
winds have scarcely budged in seasons --
and shivering as they bend
to think of all the changes taking over --
or turning to wave
at travelers     -- turning from winds
the chain of semis
will configure     -- from the moods
in parlors
/when the contract jobs
run out.


     So maybe the news tonight     /the scanned songs
strike a heart as topical
/the vanity plates declaring
the new toys
or new enjoyments      -- more loudly
as news breaks off
/the spikes of monologue
pitch weekend wealth
and casualties.

     So notions proceed and etch their own
wide ways
of seeing worlds     -- trying --
as humors might --
complaints they know against the weather --
no snow to speak in favor of --
and only this Christmas moon
/this violent enough
if insufficient drama for some households --
and this moonlight now --
brightening the grey arithmetic --
striking the stalks
and stubble where stalks were
like prescience --
situations     -- as these
have come to be
in Avalon.


     And why not be thinking holidays?  And
why not be glad
for this reprise     -- because we have not but once
grown tired of the love-songs --
be glad for these songs we share
and share our travel
to be part of     -- because we have not but once --
and nobody --
tempting accidents     -- when the next
or next
November bridge could mean surprises --
can say
what the spiked or huddling slope grasses
mean by glazing --

     except for these snows ahead --
predicted by moonlight now     -- while
each of us     -- shaped
by lines     -- by these towel-headed kids
deciding tracks
as if they mattered     -- feels the light
drop in
over the cut-board silhouettes
/the crèches set
the ways they've been since the Depression
/charming the church-lawns
still     -- as they have since roads
were one more way
of saying hungry     /the dances
one more chance
to hold love


Robert Lietz is the author of eight published collections of poems, including The Lindbergh Half Century, Storm Service, and After Business in the West. Recent work has been published in Istanbul Literature Review, The Pittsburgh Quarterly Online, Interpoetry, and Lily. Meanwhile, he keeps active writing and exploring his interest in digital photography and image processing and their relationship to the development of his poetry.

Print   :   Blog   :   Next   




Home : Terrain.org. Terrain.org: A Journal of the Built & Natural Environments.