Bio Note: When the news of the day threatens to overwhelm, I find myself, both as reader and writer, turning more insistently to poetry of gratitude, praise, blessing, joy, and simple (and complex) pleasures. My poems this month reflect this impulse, which is not the whole of what I am feeling, but for me is a necessary counter-balance to darker emotions called forth by these dark times. If you don’t already know me, I’m a retired college teacher and unretired poet and amateur photographer. More detail on my doings in poetry and photography available on my website: www.davidgrahampoet.com.
Self-Portrait as Lucky Man
Because I pay my bills on time and often smile when signing checks my credit limit’s been raised again. I’m looking better and better these days in the bathroom mirrors of interstate highway rest stops -- my pallor and road-dazzled eyes lend me the cool intelligence of actors in foreign movies where no one completes a sentence. And though I cannot find a job I’m the kind of man you would think should have no trouble. Yesterday my car stalled at a traffic light in time to avoid being hit by an escaping felon’s truck. Even when I lower my eyes in pain or shyness I’m sure to glimpse five-dollar bills in the gutter. My wife is so kind I do not deserve her, though she swears I do.
Originally published in Second Wind. Texas Tech University Press, 1990.
Amazing how many people will smile for you in a day— grocery clerks, your boss (you made deadline again!), your wife just because you arrived home, strangers on the sidewalk who simply have to pet your dog. Not to mention the waitress grinning despite herself when a certain song comes on, or an old woman stock still on the street listening to a cardinal trill; or now—this young kid in the crosswalk with me, some rap I wouldn't know leaking from his ear buds, nodding his head emphatically at the whole swirling world.
Waking After a Good Dream
I have come to the door, and I want to shout at everyone: —If you want something, here it is! —César Vallejo, trans. John Knoepfle Waking, all I hold in my hand is a scrap or two of something fine, my father mumbling goofy praise in the ear of a spaniel, Mom grinning in her new dress, Grandfather solemnly tipping the train porter a week’s pay. There’s music playing, of course, but softly as conversation in the next room, two voices languidly agreeing with each other about one thing after another.
©2020 David Graham
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