Poem Audio #3 – “Space” / “Two Boys”

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Two more poems: “Space” and “Two Boys.” The full text for each poem is included below the audio player. Enjoy!


“Space”

I read the other day

That the human body can briefly survive

The hard vacuum of space unprotected,

And I’ve never been more afraid than I was then,

Sitting quietly at a table, drinking coffee.

 

I dreamed you and I were astronauts,

Breathing into screens, fingers in padded gloves,

Drifting in the black, until suddenly,

You peeled your suit straight off your arms

And pushed into the dark.

 

I wanted to reach you on the radio,

Try every channel, all my digital rhetoric,

Just to have you back,

But you slowly grew smaller,

A white star fading from the frame

 

Until you disappeared.

 

I wanted more time to hold you in orbit,

To see the constellations

Reflecting in your eyes,

To prove I could protect you

From the cold of this wide universe.

 

But I was left there, suspended,

Playing over and over in my mind

The singular curve of your hand

As your fingers unwound themselves from mine

And you said you needed space.

 

“Two Boys”

Every man is twice a boy –

 

once, through the swinging years of wildness,

two barrels of bone and breath

in his fiery chest,

hands on the hot road,

toothless summers of

grapes and tall grass,

the braille of bumps on the high dive –

 

and again, in the final minute,

when his breath stays in his mouth,

and his fingers itch

for his mother

Ray’s Peaches

Another summer poem…


Our tires chewed the gravel road,

Tossing rocks into the palm of a single beam of sunlight

As we pulled the car crookedly into his driveway.

 

He sat enthroned in the yawning wood of his tumbledown rocking chair –

Still as the stale air of his ripening trees,

The former glory of Ray’s Peaches.

 

The A-frame sign by the old highway

Had lost two letters from the downpours of time,

The decay of decades, remainders from rain

And the Carolina sun,

The ghostly silhouette of the first and the second e

Unveiling the bright white of the untanned parts

And a vacant apostrophe near the top.

 

Ray watched as my family and I leapt from the car

And asked for a couple baskets for the peaches,

His freckled grin brawling against the worn grooves

Of his cheeks, and his eyes still laughing like the sky.

 

That morning,

We plucked our swollen wonders,

Warm as hands,

And kissed the gentle clouds with our giggling.

 

Ray simply watched as we lugged our teeming baskets to the scale,

Fifty cents a pound, peaches discounted

As a favor to the family grandfathered by the town preacher.

He felt the sharp cool of dollars between his thumb and finger

And winked at my daughter, quick enough to only spill

A flutter of magic at her dancing feet.

 

And as she paused to glance at Old Ray

Of Ray’s Peaches,

She lay her basket in the grass and scooped the smell of earth

Into her little hands,

Thanked Mr. Ray for the fruit,

And turned with her clasped fingers toward the car

While Ray lifted a prayer to God

That Elizabeth may turn her eyes down from heaven

To their small peach farm once more

As he kissed the gentle clouds

And shuffled to their bed to sleep.

 

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Boy

A new poem on summer and boyhood:


He stood by the swimming pool,

His trunks sealed to his little knees

As the last breaths of the pool dribbled slowly from his calves

To kiss the crackling concrete.

 

Beneath his wrinkled, sunblocked brow, his eyes flashed open,

Fixed on the middle distance and the sound of a train

Stampeding down a rusted track.

As the sun pulled at his shadow, the boy dropped his goggles

And stared reverently at the noise of power behind the trees.

 

He had heard the stories,

The quick news that Aunt Jane had bought her house near the railroad,

But now he knew, as her back yard burst with chugging,

And her pool rippled the echo,

The spirit of wildness, the wonder of living.

 

He raised his chin to face the summer breeze,

Locked his knuckles,

And blessed the pulsing engine

As he felt his own horsepower tingling in his toes.