The Innisfree Poetry Journal
by Brent Pallas
THE SECRET LIFE
as it whispers
in parking lots off the interstate
while everything else
willow limbs and door knobs
pens amongst their papers
creak with ordinary stillness
it rattles with abandonment
like a peanut up a vacuum's hose.
Its needs are met
and it always wears a hat.
out of dull meetings
with the glint of a kiss.
Its window overlooks.
Its doorway beckons.
Its violin calls
a lost child
reaching for some crumb of sweetness.
And no matter what scented glove
of despair or flower
of longing is pressed
between its pages
it glistens like a ring
on a business trip.
FOR A CANE LEFT
IN A GARBAGE CAN
It's yesterday's news now, a leafless
stem sprouting from the lip
of a garbage can. A remedy
that did its business and moved on.
No longer is the patient
grimacing through the final page
of a bum knee or some bathtub's
dizzying curb after grabbing
a handful of air for a handrail.
Even my own graceless limp
of a gouty toe and each
unforgiving day of it
I remember hobbling about
like my great-uncle did
down to his bench in the backyard.
I can't even recall now
what it was
he didn't steer clear of years back
or which leg didn't bend
as he sat watching
slip into evening.
Now and then they're needed
to replace what grows dim, bespectacled,
a syllable of itself. A garage door
creaking upward where it once
purred, an eardrum faint
as prayer. Every part
ground to whispers, a piston's
fiery soul a flicker, a knee joint
recoiling like a worm.
And a look beneath the hood
reveals what's no longer a curve,
every washer thin, worn
to barely there
knowing it's time
for what rolled left
to roll right again.
You have to admire them, these artists
of the microscopic, gleaners of great patience
delivering portraits the size of nickels. Knowing
any brush wider than an eyelash wouldn't do.
They left no doubt about the irresistibility
of a certain lady's dimples or her whaling
captain husband's insufficient chin. Others
will write your kid's name (they say
it's lucky) for a buck on a grain of rice, or sigh,
when the schooner fits in the glistening
harbor of a jar. Distilling their passion down
enough to fill a thimble. They copy
The Declaration of Independence
with all its Amendments on an egg.
Their collections fill a cup.
Their oeuvre a spoon.
During the war my Father wrote home:
I'm not much of a writer. But you know how much
I miss you. Jeanne girl. Write soon.
A page or two. Love Ed.
THINGS I'VE NEVER DONE
Are almost too many
from the few. Forget how regret
has kept me in its chair or vice
sleathily crept from room to room shedding
every stitch. I've wandered where the rings
go through the paper, a fly stuck in the ointment
of an afternoon. Letting the familiar
feed the script, routine
cast its weary net. I'll never adjust
an engine's manifold or properly
tie a bow, or forgive what's unforgivable,
to me at least: anything dietary
in a martini. Know how a sparrow
can peck what seems like bliss
through a crust of March snow alone. Maybe
it's the tap of fingers over tabletops winnowing
the hours away. How time wants many more
breaths to polish its luster. I know it's always
too late. Every tree is black and glistening
with rain, decisions are wanting, shadows
lengthening from poles, uncertainties
are flocks of birds wandering from tree to tree
unable to commit, settle down, or even tidy up
when there's nothing left to read. Even
reason's steady hand, a balanced
diet, a good cash flow nourishes
uncertainty. How every leaf brightens a bit
before it falls, and then wrinkles into nothing
so it can drift.
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