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.
In this game we confess the things
about ourselves we’ve never told
before: Gary wearing the same shirt
for all four of his high school class pictures,
Jim doing something slightly shady
for the CIA in Nam, Kelly dancing topless
that summer to get through grad school.
I hesitate between the public swimming pool
when I was ten, or sitting on my brother’s face
and breaking his nose,
till I remember Terry Mayo,
not only the prettiest girl in first grade,
but maybe ever, so lovely
she was born for Frank Harris, who wore
a coat and tie to school, and, even I could see,
was handsome as a movie star.
A little sheepishly, I decide to scrawl on my scrap
of paper how, for her birthday, I gave her
a brown-plastic-framed picture
of Jesus, knowing my friends will laugh
for years to come. But what they won’t know
is how she suddenly kissed me bang
on the mouth in the middle of the playground
in front of God and everybody, or that, when
Christmas came, it was not me, but Frank, gold
in the robe his mother made, who knelt
in the straw with the sheep, while I stood
next to her, cotton wool on my chin,
towel on my head, and felt
with my hand, for a full ten minutes,
her waist, tiny and warm.
France has been, as the guidebooks say,
enchanting, the Pyrenees frosted with snow,
and the food! Creamy sauces and snails.
But after a week, we’re homesick, though
for America, where we live, or Wales,
where we’re living this hopscotch year,
we don’t know. Home is many-layered
as an onion, and none can make us weep
anymore. Hiraeth, the Welsh call that
inconsolable longing for place,
but we long for too many.
I like the way the plains Indians just
rolled up their houses and rode away,
took their few possessions and all
the people they knew with them.
What Mother couldn’t move in a day,
the IRS got. What did they do, I wonder,
with my high school yearbook, all those
young faces stratified in the dark
of some warehouse somewhere?
If I could see even one of my graduating
class, I’d know how old I was,
but they’re as scattered
as I. How do we put the heart
back in hearth? One pied in air,
we need another in some terre
besides the grave.
I still dream about my first house.
Now that was a home.
Where I fell on the floor furnace
that burned a chessboard on my knee.
Scarred and waiting for my next move,
look: it’s still there, always will be.
©2016 William Greenway