A native of Johnstown, NY, I retired in June 2016 after 29 years of teaching writing and literature at Ripon College in Wisconsin. I've published six collections of poetry, including Stutter Monk and Second Wind; I also co-edited (with Kate Sontag) the essay anthology After Confession: Poetry as Confession. Essays, reviews, and individual poems have appeared widely, both in print and online. In recent years I've spent nearly as much time on photography as poetry. A gallery of my work is online here: http://instagram.com/doctorjazz
Most of the Time We Live Through The Night
Most of the time the dark waters will rise,
then fall into sun and birdsong, everything
glistening, vivid as broken glass in fresh mud.
Most of the time the dire phone does not ring,
your brakes hold firm, fever breaks, letter arrives
in plenty of time with the full amount enclosed.
Most of the time when we speak our love
we mean it. When you walk the winter cemetery
and fifty crows lift off at once from a bare oak,
most of the time it portends nothing at all.
Just a bit of dust moving around the universe.
Just another omen that signifies nothing, really,
but what water means flowing over the stones
in the creek. Most of the time Sunday has
little to tell Saturday night, and almost nothing
Monday morning needs to hear. The best days
are the first to flee, Virgil told us long ago,
but we didn't listen, did we? We ran through
summer grass and winter snow, and most
of the time that was just the right thing to do.
No Recent Activity
Several of my Facebook friends have died,
but their pages live on. Years now.
The auto-notice . . . has no recent activity
pops up at every visit--and why on earth
do I visit? I suppose it's little different
from laying flowers on a grave. Years.
How startled I was the first time I saw
a tombstone adorned with a photograph—
some studio shot in plexiglas frame,
plastic flowers around the top, glass foggy
with condensation but the dead one smiling.
It made sense, but new to me. No different
carving a beloved name in rock or in air.
It's all air eventually. That's exactly
what we hate and deny every breathing day.
You don't need to stroll the cemetery
to feel earth's friction rub against you.
One day you'll be whittled entirely away,
and you know it. That's why the grins
in posed photos fool no one. That's why
we pose anyway. That's why we post
birthday greetings every year on
the dead ones' pages: "Miss you, buddy!"
"Still can't believe you're gone." "Hey,
Amy, remember the time....?" And the one
it'll take me a while to let go: "Jake,
life is hard." Just that, and no reply necessary.
©2016 David Graham
Editor's Note: If this poem(s) moves you please consider writing to the author (email address above) to tell him or her. You might say what it is about the poem that moves you. Writing to the author is the beginning of community at Verse Virtual. It is very important. -FF