Poetry is a lonely business, but I have a friend who plays guitar, and when I play bass with him, I find community. My most recent book is In This Place: Selected Poems 1982-2013 and I've had recent poems in Hummingbird, Atticus Review, Hamilton Stone Review, and other literary magazines. I'm honored to serve as managing editor of the Lorine Niedecker Monograph Series, What Region?. I blog as The Middlewesterner (www.middlewesterner.com), and have put up at least five little poems a week since mid-2008.
Bringing the Horses Home
Four big horses coming around the curve
of our house, big horses like those that knights
used to ride, headed up the street to
the C&D Bar, maybe to have a beer.
In a snow storm these marching beauties,
my neighbor's horses, shouldn't be out
for a walk while he is away. Oh, boy,
I say, what's to be done? I step out to
the street to speak with them. Whoa, boys, I say,
you shouldn't be out here. They stop and look
at me. Several tons of horse flesh and one
former farm-boy poet. This will never
do, boys, I say. Let's get you to the barn.
Another neighbor gets behind them
and pushes as I talk their way towards home.
They follow. Once in the barn, they force me
against the far wall, these several tons
of horse flesh stamping now where they belong.
I step between two of them and slap them
apart, then the other two. I close and latch
the gate behind me, even as the snow continues.
Horses' breath still steams the air. I don't know
exactly what it is, but I stand there
thinking, Whatever it is, I've still got it.
Old wood of this desk,
marked with the weight
of my amazement.
Stained dark, it is weary
of my bad habits.
Yet we are in this
together, one of us
leaning on the other,
one of us pushing back.
The edges dissolve —
I am the tree it was,
wind in my leaves now.
We are set to fly from here.
We are set to cry, to laugh.
There is no turning back.
No lemon trees
though we are
warmer than we were.
All this moisture
flies like clouds,
the sky a winter
color. Who promises
that things will be
better, that our days
what we need is
within our reach?
All the Universe
All the universe
but one bubble
in a swirling pot
beyond us. So much
more than we know,
those other places
we cannot reach.
All the life and death
of endless others,
we think it matters.
This universe, too,
this moment, matters,
until it doesn't.
© 2017 Tom Montag
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