My collection, William Greenway’s Selected Poems is from FutureCycle Press. Both my tenth and eleventh collections won Ohio Poetry Book of the Year Awards. I have published in Poetry, American Poetry Review, Georgia Review, Southern Review, Poetry Northwest, Shenandoah, and Prairie Schooner. I'm Distinguished Professor of English at Youngstown State University.
Back when we were young and poor
we somehow scrounged enough to travel
to our dream land of Wales, where we slept
in crappy kapok bags in cheap, leaky tents
in the middle of pastures, but said someday
we’d stay in the fancy B&B down the lane
and eat in pubs. Then we’d drift off
to sleep, lulled by the bawling of lambs
and the smells of dung and hay
like the drowse of poppies.
And then it lightening, and the birds
would begin, we’d walk through the mist
to wash, brush, eat cereal and boil
tea on a little primus stove.
Now we stay in the best places,
but back home tonight, thirty
years along, as I walked the weekly
trash out to the suburban curb,
I suddenly smelled that time, heard
crickets and Dylan’s nightjars,
and longed to lie down in fragrant
grass again, and wake to birds
in the gray dawn, wet with dew,
as if I’d just been baptized
She wasn’t supposed to happen—
poor-white mother, black father,
split (hit it and quit it),
Almost in time for that other birth
(alleged) in this snowy season,
though cotton-bearded shepherds
in bedsheets, bespectacled Magi,
and plywood mangers abound.
The Assisted Living crèche
has real sheep, goats, a mangy
camel, even a homesick llama
to bow to the rubber baby.
An angel announced the news
(she said); unto us a social worker,
underpaid angel of a kind.
And then the long ride
back home to Bethlehem,
to Youngstown, Ohio,
no star to guide us, but
a GPS to bounce one off of.
However these little deities arrive,
they change everything,
and no matter how much
we don’t want this comfy old world
to pass away,
it always does,
and the new one shall always
take us with it.
On the Bridge
She wants to walk across to the other side,
and I smile sickly, No problem.
I make it maybe a fourth of the way,
and even clinging to the railing on the “safe” side,
runners and bikers zipping by
dissolve my innards.
I take a photo of her, laughing, by the suicide sign:
There is hope
Make the call
They say it’s because you secretly want to jump.
I say they’re full of shit.
Cold wind even in July, white caps far below,
boats tacking to Alcatraz, prisoners that tried
to swim to shore, their bodies never found,
Great Whites stalking seals and wind surfers,
workmen hanging high overhead to paint
the famous gate red, not Golden.
She wants me to pour her ashes
from the middle. Fat chance.
But maybe she should dump me here,
instead of the Sanibel surf, soon
to be back on shore, so safe.
Why not, at the end, send
me down into these cold tides
whether rising or ebbing?
Just another old hippie,
doing what he always did,
going with the flow.
©2016 William Greenway
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