I’m a Midwesterner, born and bred, and have lived for many years on the Near Eastside of Indianapolis, a couple of blocks away from Booth Tarkington’s locale for The Magnificent Ambersons. My most recent book is Darkened Rooms of Summer: New and Selected Poems (University of Nebraska Press), which features an introduction by Ted Kooser.
Editor's Note: In his submission letter, Jared said this about these poems: "If anything makes them a group, it is their common form, which has been used occasionally in English verse for the last few centuries, but has never been given a name. I have been calling such a poem an “alexandroid.” The indented second and fourth line of each of the three stanzas has come to seem essential to its form."
Lübeck, perhaps, or Ravenna –
out of the way,
The sort of town not found in a
moment or day,
But a place you drift to, after
the tourists leave
And shutters close. No more laughter,
nothing to grieve,
Only at dusk the cobbled square,
and the harsh drone –
One of the old ones, standing there,
A cave – not one with figures thrown
against the wall
By hidden fire, but drawn on stone,
by torchlight – all
Turned phantom in a chamber where
we dare not seek
Re-entry. Taken in, that air
might cloud or streak
Those colors – as when dreams parade
not what was true
But what is left of that charade
we thought we knew.
The stationmaster waves his lamp;
a whistle blows.
The engine’s unrelenting stamp
obeys, and slows,
The cars draw up along a track
immersed in steam.
The steps fold down, men hurry back
and forth. The gleam
Of lights within cannot explain
the curtains drawn,
The voices calling now – this train
you must get on.
That shows you, long ago, captured
like any fly
In amber – magically assured
you’d never die
And were in fact entitled to
this triumph – fish
Held up, a nylon cable through
its gills, its wish
To be, denied. Gone, from those eyes,
all light except
What, turned to amber, would disguise
this other debt.
Intermittently returned – times
Disconsolate nights – broken lines,
Fragments – moments that never were?
Sounds that begin
Deep in shadow; weathercock stirs
in a cold wind
Passing through. Something would speak, in
But finds no trace of what has been,
and hurries on.
©2015 Jared Carter