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).
When he had finished writing, and crossing out
and standing and rewriting, and looking
out his window, and feeling the sun
I stood and watched you sleeping, had
stood there watching for nearly five minutes in
the shadow of the
hallway for nearly five minutes of circus
time before I dropped your purse on the chair, quiet as death
If I could, I’d use
my recently purchased cell phone
to call the pay phone outside
the community swimming pool
in Fairview Park, Normal, Illinois,
that summer when I was eleven,
and the country 200.
It was the night we were told we couldn’t pretend we were Catholic.
The priest turned only toward you and said, “It’s between you and God.”
And you cried.
I dream of her,
childish and illogical,
straight hair and tiger-eyes.
My punk-rock gothic-pixie little sister fourteen fresh faced
We listened to The Cure during art class Made bongs and pipes
out of ceramic You taught me how to kiss people who could
never love me
Supermassive Black Hole swallowed your cackle-low
Cosmos whisper pretty Come here darling and you come
I hope I never forget that pack of middle-schoolers
at the playground near my house, how they acted
like middle-schoolers, shouting their conversations
across the neighborhood as if showing off new sneakers,
the boys doing mean things to the girls,
the girls saying mean things about each other.
head, right arm
behind the back, fingers
curled around the left arm’s inner
We all live on the Hudson, America’s only true river. It’s
a driveway, a landing strip, and a dead end. The Hudson is not the only river
to become a school, but it is the only one once beheld by the likes of George
Washington, Melville, and Sir Winston Churchill.