I live with my wife in a northern exurb of Westchester, surrounded by privilege and abundant natural beauty. My poems derive more from human nature, however, and my mind has been shaped by years of pop culture: countless hours of music, films, television, news, and more. Through teaching, I get to share my love of literature and the importance of responsible journalism. My poems and short stories have been published in numerous journals. My first collection, Small Consolations (Aldrich Press), can be found on Amazon.com. A chapbook, Memory Marries Desire, will be out in March. It currently can be pre-ordered at FinishingLinePress.com.
Eclectic neighbor, rarely home,
a community question mark,
and subject of much speculation
shows up barefoot on my doorstep
at eleven, a torn evening gown
of deep indigo, an expression
of confused relief, and a whiff
of gin and whispers, asking for
a few moments of protection.
Foolishly, I cave to curiosity
and drawn to the occasion’s oddity,
open up and let her in.
No exotic tale of seduction ensues,
rather snippets of odd rejoinders
quilted together as makeshift conversation,
polite, apologetic, and full of hushed grace.
We would be strangers ever after,
even if she spent this unlucky night,
her steel wedding anniversary,
sleeping off overdone temporary reveries
alone on our family room’s comfy couch.,
covered up with Aunt Sally’s gift afghan,
quiet sobs soon fading to snores.
It was the neighborly thing to do.
She moved out a month later,
no less a mystery, still considered
a monster of social faux pas,
victim of hushed judgments from afar,
condemned to rumors and hearsay history.
Here in the suburbs we value silence,
saving the world from sordid secrets
in heroic non-heroic daily dealings.
I cannot share much more about it,
but even if I could, I wouldn’t.
He wakes to find
revelations in jeans pocket,
burning bushes speaking.
These are troubled times,
and more than coincident sleight of hand,
he knows he has been chosen.
The next day he is there
at his appointed place, speaking
at the farmer’s market podium.
“I am not here to ruin your day,”
he explains, with a hint of apology.
The message is tacit, an elusive grail.
“It will take more than local produce
and delicious baked goods
to effect necessary change.”
A vengeful God has seen enough.
When a well-dressed couple walks by
they suddenly ignite to flame.
That sparks suburban panic,
but he stands there undaunted,
keeping calm, carrying on.
The judgment day
needs no ambient traffic,
only a message of love and tolerance.
He repeats the message,
feeding all who happen by
on homemade loaves and fresh caught fish.
“I’ll return as needed,”
he tells shoppers turned disciples,
rebuking them while capturing lightning,
then taking down the small table and stall.
Surrounding trees and icy waters,
solitude, woods, and wilderness
pervade this careful sadness,
tentative, pretending their fantasy
was yet intact, in painstaking detail
to every last finishing touch:
the desire for happiness, for romance,
for a return to what was
and cannot be again.
There was fog and a night bird’s symphony,
and in between they learned how to hide
feelings, motives, the debts of a relationship:
sacrifices made, plans put on hold, aborted.
With so much wrong, the pretense was necessary
to stave off the growing sense of fatigue,
of disbelief, the black hole of their empty future.
In the end, ice covers everything:
their love, promises, and tacit understandings.
It is a battle lost to winter’s early onset.
Snow muffles the heart’s despairing cries;
valences drawing them to their mutual destruction,
alone even when together.
©2016 Gary Glauber