The neighborhood seems mostly safe, although
at night one can often hear a lot of gunshots.
At least there hasn’t been a drive-by shooting today,
no police cordoning off the block, asking all
the neighbors what they saw and heard. At noon!
Just a cloud flying by with an undecipherable
script and a risqué drawing on its belly.
Just yesterday the cops picked up 21 shell casings
as evidence, holes in the windows of the house
opposite where the renter, a cop said, is uncooperative,
he who sits in his running car at midnight,
headlights pointing toward the street as if he’s ready
to go out for a delivery, or to get more dope, or get
away and fast if some unwanted rival comes around
to nettle his uneasy quietude, settle a score.
A nun-like woman who lived there a while back
used to pick up trash on the street and picket
an abortion clinic on Flushing Road. That was then.
Only now am I curious about the renter’s woman
and four kids, the occasional dog, the whole lot
who’ve moved elsewhere, thank heaven. The house
is empty. And now the block waits for the next
occupant. Another story, I’m sure, waiting to be told.
I walked off the planet
and left the earth behind me.
I couldn’t bear to look at it
anymore. O mankind, at least
as unkind as kind, such a bedlam
you’ve made of this world,
poor, battered thing.
Notes Towards a Red Bouquet
Eventually it comes in a swanky envelope how it was wrong to selfishly play the principal, taking the black on one’s brow like a penitent minstrel, when it wasn’t that way at all.
Now that you’ve let it go it dogs you like bad credit, and you would pencil it correct, squirming like a poet with a good line coming if you only had a clue.
There was an autumn day way back (nothing ever so blue), in your old Ford, lone scout on the Maine coast, haunched on the crown of Mt. Cadillac, scanning the Atlantic for a sign, a freedom that will never be again.
Now you get out your sneakers; you have only to run. You know you love what you love because of the flaw–in the logic, or in the thing. And when it comes to nothing, the pink-handed flop is your own.
Yes, sadness gathers around the eyes like the green scum that grows around a still pond before it goes dry. And the stem in your teeth is all thorns. It is what you have become.
Heart of My Heart
as if someone
air out of
mouth of a
down on your
a bad stop-
your time up?
I’ve checked the blurt with beeswax
to spare you the spittle of truth,
sealed it tight as a coffin. Stillborn,
it gurgles still, the ghost of a dream.
From dusk till dawn, to cure it,
I’ve cupped on my puling tongue
nine drops of bitters as sharp as your
rebuff. I’ve taken to wearing musk,
let my hair fly free, calmed my
forehead furrowless, even starved
myself thin as a sapling, things you
love in others. This catalog goes on:
nothing is enough.
James Kangas, a retired librarian living in Flint, MI has had poems in Atlanta Review, New Letters, NYQ, Penn Review, et al. His chapbook, Breath of Eden (Sibling Rivalry Press) appeared in 2019.