New skiff of snow on the roads and lawns
and a full moon above the night’s overcast.
I drive past two neighbors — two older men —
shoveling slush, their sidewalks scraped clean
so passers-by won’t slip and crack an elbow.
Both men, now paused for conversation, side-by-side,
each leaning on his shovel, one stomping his boots
and the other craning his neck aimlessly skyward.
One says something offhand and the other
adds a thought back, neither casting an eye
directly face to face, as their meanings rise
in huffs of breath and float off into the vast
and lonely black. They have nothing of substance
to say, at least nothing said outright. They relish
a stolen moment like this, and dawdle
shoulder to shoulder like a team of unharnessed stock
put to pasture, a moment I too enjoy, nodding
with these men wordlessly. As I tap my horn in passing.
Lowell Jaeger serves as Humanities Division Chair at Flathead Valley Community College (Kalispell, Montana) where he has taught writing courses for over 30 years. As founding editor of Many Voices Press, Jaeger compiled New Poets of the American West, an anthology of poets from 11 Western states. His most recent books of poems are Driving the Back Road Home (Shabda Press 2015) and Or Maybe I Drift Off Alone (Shabda Press 2016).
I'm standing in the wind.
We had five years left to cry,
stay in, get things done.
The wordy gurdy stands
quiet in the middle of my head;
missing pieces [with just enough
shine] rubber-banded tog-
Back then, when she rose
from her beach chair, the weave imprinted itself
on the backs of her jiggly thighs.
Who would have carried it this far,
up the crest between watersheds,
then quit before the downhill?
This was your domain.
Pocket jingling a handful of brads, flat pencil behind your ear,
you’d bore through the browsers; pay and go.
When you rose from the sea
the crown of your head
touched the clouds
A conveyor belt delivers mutton and fowl.
Hot meringues suffer and collapse
under my ruthless fork.
His breath tripped over words stuck between his teeth
and tongue as sinewy shoulders curved.
The child stood, small, shivering in her tattered brown coat,
a dented, scuffed brown suitcase gripped in her hand.
mushrooms, beets, carrots, cabbage,
uncle’s ashen face.