GREATNESS AT TWO IN THE MORNING
Writing a poem in the bathroom
of an exceptionally small Paris apartment,
so as not to wake my wife who’s sleeping
well enough for us both.
A poem of no general or particular
significance—which means it has a great chance
of being a poem of general and particular significance.
About a man who’s looking for his pants
and a woman dressed as a clown fainting on the street—
hopelessly French despite a burger joint brought in
in the third stanza.
Enough written to work with—I turn off the light,
stumble back to bed—counting on my wife to tell me
the clown suit is a stroke of genius
when she reads it at daylight—holding the cup
of coffee in her hands, swaying to the words
as if they were her own.
“The heavens have nothing to say”
a poster on the wall of an ancient temple proclaims—
though we might have developed deafness
to their entreaties. But whether a temple in the afternoon
or a diner at midnight the work goes on,
our hands and machines flailing away
with confidence and doubt—all the ying and yang
and everything in between. What can the heavens say to us
that we haven’t learned to cleave close to the vest, the hard way.
IN THE VITALITY OF THE CITY
I find home, as much as any human being can,
wading into the crowds—all shapes and colors:
the business suits, anarchist’s shirts, summer dresses,
tight jeans and the sweet amalgam of skyscrapers,
bodegas and bookstores that still love books.
While one of our citizens is spreading hay in a barn
I’ve grabbed my smudged cap and headed toward
my favorite cathedral, the pizzeria by the man-made
river, along the old railroad lines, an actual stone’s throw
from the racetrack where the beautiful people mingle
with those who have little to spare but put it down
anyway on the likes of “Jewel of the Black Nile”.
A huge sign of a pepperoni slice welcomes all comers,
the high mountains in the distance lonely, inconsolable.
DURING THE LONG LATE HOURS
I’m not sure if it was in the middle
or after three quarters, but I got out of bed,
went to the study and looked out the large
bay window, seeing far into the night,
into some future. I saw myself reflected
by the outside lights and I have to say
I felt like a King surveying his Kingdom,
though royalty has always seen fit to ignore
me and I have no desire to rule over anyone.
I felt strangely as exhilarated as I did lonely
and a real sense of chill made me go back
to the bedroom. I was glad to see my wife
occupying most of the bed, sprawled out
beautifully with a hand on her chest. The King
had some territory to retake quietly, quietly
as the world itself gently pushing into morning.
Tim Suermondt is the author of four full-length collections of poems: Trying To Help The Elephant Man Dance (The Backwaters Press, 2007), Just Beautiful (New York Quarterly Books, 2010), Election Night And The Five Satins (Glass Lyre Press, 2016) and The World Doesn’t Know You, published by Pinyon Publishing in late 2017. His fifth book JosephineBaker Swimming Pool will be released in 2018 by MadHat Press. He has poems published in Poetry, The Georgia Review, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, Blackbird, Bellevue Literary Review, North Dakota Quarterly, december magazine, Plume Poetry Journal, Poetry East and Stand Magazine (England), among others. He is a book reviewer for Cervena Barva Press and a poetry reviewer for Bellevue Literary Review. He lives in Cambridge (MA) with his wife, the poet Pui Ying Wong.