martes, noviembre 07, 2006

Three Poems from Jack Conway


“The wound of being never heals,” he said, bowing his head in prayer

before the meal. No one dared say a word until Aunt Martha had the

nerve to compliment the china plates and silverware. “What a lovely

setting. The forks and spoons and knives are superb,” she opined.

It only made him cry. He snatched them up and wiped them with his tie.

On the 15th of July, 1965, Uncle George took his life, jumping

off the Brooklyn Bridge, the pockets of his coat brimming with

every piece of silverware they owned. A witness to the grim event

said Uncle George seemed intent. “He looked like someone was

chasing him the way he scaled the fence and dived.”

Martha didn’t seem a bit surprised. “No one survives the wound of

being. This infectious disease leads us to quarantine our rebellious

heart and fill our lives with antiseptic remedies and cures that never work,”

she philosophized. “Still, I wish he hadn’t taken all the forks and knives.”


The dead watch over us at night, coming up from fields.

Whispers and smoke, vapors and breeze, moving unseen.

We dream the dreams they once dreamed. Live lives

inside the homes they owned. Sleep in their beds.

A curtain that moves, a candle snuffed out,

a sudden chill, words barely said.

We make our way out to the graves during the day through

briar and brush, fallen trees leave us no path, to there and

back. Dark granite stones, some barely erect, record

their age, their birth and death. That’s all that we know

from these stones. We read the ancient dates, imagine

their hard lives, stone walls they built by hand still survive.

I was a farmer, a soldier, a friend,

a husband, a father, in a world without end.

Whispers and smoke moving up from fields.

These are the ghosts that watch over us.

Imagining them imagining us.

This is my house. That is my bed.

I once had a life. Now I am dead.

Who are the ones that bear witness to you?

And who will we then bear witness to?


White flowers grow wild in the empty lot

next door to Junior‘s Variety Store. Some

people say it‘s stayed that way too long.

He dreamed he’d pass it all along to the

next generation. Rumor is a burning cigarette

lit the bed on fire. The official version is faulty

electrical wires. It remains a tragic mystery.

Everyone lost in that blaze. The house, gone,

the foundation razed. He’s received a multitude

of seasoned platitudes but it remains an

unreasonable reason just the same. He’s grown

weary of trying to place the blame. It doesn’t

matter who’s at fault. He doesn’t care. He

wonders how anything could grow there in that

corrupted field. It hardly matters. Looking back

he turns to salt. “Aren’t they beautiful,” she says,

putting the white wild flowers in a vase

on the table where her children wait.

Jack Conway’s poems have appeared in Poetry, The Antioch Review, The Columbia Review, Yankee, The Potomac and The Norton Anthology of Light Verse among others. He is the author of, My Picnic With Lolita and Other Poems published by North Country Press in 2004. He teaches at the University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth and Bristol Community College in Fall River.

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