Friday, January 16, 2015

Introduction to a Past


Introduction to a Past

When it snows I think about horse-drawn wagons.

That year my mother tried to quit smoking.
It would kill her, the smoking, after two decades
of not lighting a cigarette.  She would die
like a pedestrian lifted from beneath a car.

I tried reading from the bottom up.
The classroom window was open to a warm day.
Kezar Stadium was empty across the street.
A girl I liked glanced over... rubbed
her face with a yellowish handkerchief.
I was reading about medieval puppet shows.
Or about children burning in wicker cradles.

When it snows I think about blowsy old popes.

That year a stray dog came home
and curled up on my bed with all its fleas.
I was ordered to walk the dog to the pound,
which was at least four miles away.
We stopped in every bar along the way
until we met a pale man who said he needed
a black dog to set off floral-pink wallpaper.

I was watching a film about poppies...
about the far away people who grow them.
Our English teacher spoke of poppy juice.
Up the street was a grocery store, George's.
George was bald... listened to baseball games.
There were cats in George's to keep mice away.
The store stank of week-old cat litter.
I asked George if he knew about poppy juice.
He said to try chewing tobacco instead.

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