Big Bridge #10

Export: Writing the Midwest

 

Tim Lane

 

Fabulous
for Sheila

I love you & these empty branches & those wet
roofs over there coming close to our window while I
lie in bed sipping Coca-Cola are nothing. They
are nothing. And I very much enjoy being busy
in a very unbusy kind of way but this again is nothing.
It is nothing. Here is a map of our country hanging
above my dresser & there where I gaze the state
of Maryland where we lived shaded pink & nestled
within it a diamond D.C. This was something.
Where we lived & Blake & Mike & Diane & some
others & we loved them & they loved what they loved
& we loved loved & the cherry blossoms bloomed
for us & for them & for everyone else & the
Beltway strangled traffic for miles & Dupont Circle
spun with dark excitement while spattered statues
of statesmen saluted the stars & stripes & the
Potomac eased along with its reflection of sky &
Kennedy Center & the Lincoln Memorial &
Hirshhorn housed dumbstruck moments on free
display for you & us & everyone else.
This was something.

Morning traffic tinseled by streaming sunlight
long overdue shuttles along & December wind continues
to buffet the vinyl siding on the west side of our
house & my collages continue to hang
on the wall at Todd Mackís gallery after a fabulous
reception but all of this is nothing. It is nothing.
The paper thudding against the door is
nothing. A catís paw on the stair is nothing.
A dripping faucet is nothing.
It is nothing. And here on the nightstand
beneath the clock radio a postcard from San Diego. This
was something. Where we lounged like seals
on Mission Beach while Steve & Sheri worked &
the immensity of the Pacific made it impossible to write
poetry for weeks & the cable cars swayed above
Balboa Park for us & for them & for
everyone else & the scrubby hills multiplying
upwards into morning haze became valleys hording
galaxies of stars at night for us & them
& everyone else & the desert
tattooed us with the colors of heat & the waves on
the shore at Coronado took absolutely no notice
determined as two bodies quietly lapping together
between pastel sheets in a Mission style
home in Del Mar while our children
napped on the floor. This was
something.

And now the empty branches & wet roofs dissolve
into a theater of sunlight & the windowís a film from which I tear
my eyes to read ďHaving A Coke With YouĒ even though
you arenít here because itís you itís not OíHaraís ďyouĒ
when I read his poem & itís D.C. or San Diego or Chicago
instead of San Sebastian or Barcelona
when I open this poem
& itís your love of ice cream instead of yoghurt
& itís the warm East Side of Lansing 4 oíclock light & neither
one of us has been to the Frick yet
& itís you the Impressionists never got to stand near the tree
when the sun sank no I donít think Frank OíHara would mind
if this morning itís you when I read ďHaving A CokeĒ
instead of him with somebody else some place
Iíve never been.

But places, like days,
are nothing if not imbued with your love.
And a day spent working for money is wasted
while a day spent writing poetry is wasted but more
honest. And all of my collages are only so many
scraps of paper if not imbued with your love. And all of my cans of Coke
are not full if not imbued with your love.

 

Pure Pop
for Diane

I saw you  I was drinking a Coke  I was driving through downtown  I was riding in a coffin  I was drinking a Coke  You were wrapped like a mummy  I could barely see your eyes  You were standing on the corner  You were watching a procession  I was riding in a coffin  I could barely see your eyes  But I saw you  You were standing on the corner  The traffic stood still  You were in a magazine  The buildings closed in  You were making a video  The sky turned to ice  You were dancing at a concert  I was drinking a Coke  You were wrapped like a mummy  I could barely see your eyes  You were watching a procession  I was riding in a coffin  Your eyes were like quarters  O, Massachusetts!  O, Pennsylvania!  The winter light shattered above us  Your eyes blazed

like suns  Your hair, tousled & sassy  Your hair, like Marilyn Monroe  I was spinning on a record  The record was death  I was riding in a coffin  Your hands were on your hips  Your hips defied death  You were wrapped like a mummy  I could barely see your eyes  You were grabbing your crotch  Your crotch defied death  I was searching for May  But I found you instead  You were crossing the street  You were grinding against a man
You were red & yellow tulips  A murder of crows flapped overhead  The winter light shattered like a mirror  Beyond the mirror was death  I could barely see your eyes  I was listening to Miles  I was drinking a Coke  Did Miles bring you back?  Your eyes

blazed like suns  The dull winter light like a pyramid of refrigerators & stoves
The light the dull ring in a tub, the dull exhaust of a truck, a muddy shoe, a dusty record, the turntable fucked, the arm refusing to budge  Newspaper ink on my fingers  Oh, how the tiniest irritating details get magnified in December!  I was listening to Miles  I was drinking a can of Coke  I was trying to hang on  I was searching for June  But I found you instead  Did Miles bring you back?  You were crossing the street
The buildings closed in  Your eyes blazed

like suns  O, Madonna, of the thigh, of the fishnet stockings & the grace!  O, Madonna, of the sexual liberation of the 80s!  O, Madonna, of the combat boots & the pointed breasts, the white corset & the pin-striped suit!  O, Madonna, born into this dreary January light!  I saw you  You were in Lansing  I was drinking a Coke  I was driving through downtown  I was looking for May  But I found you instead  The buildings closed in  The sky turned to mud  You were wrapped like a mummy  I could barely see your

face  You were incognito  You were home, ha, ha
O, Grace Kelly, come back from the screen! O, Diane Wakoski, write us a poem!
O, mysterious woman arriving on this corner at the same time
I drive by in a coffin drinking a can of Coke, listening to Miles,
sing a song for us that will drive this black sludge away!


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