by Randy Smallwood

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about the author: Besides John Dolan's poem, here is another unknown or obscure writer who totally won me over with a particular poem. This is it. His bio on the back of the issue he appears in (Vol. 3, no. one), it reads, "lives near Savannah, Georgia, and authored 'Scream of the Midnight Owl' (Wind Press, 1976)." I seem to remember something about him being stationed on a navy base.... -gcb


The Wilderness of Transition

after: Prokosch

Eight years, Fred, is a long time.
I don't know if I can love you again,
- if that answers your question,
- if I'm ready.
I might again grow used to your absence,
simple as an egg I fry on Monday morning.
It would not tick and chime with a clock in the hallway,
would not scratch or whine to be let in or out.

Sometimes there is a swirl of names,
the five Johns, two Davids,
the Roberts and Bills mixed up
with all the names that don't duplicate themselves.

There can be no apology for laughter,
because I no longer find it practical to sit up nights
writing poems to men I've met in motel lobbies
or on the steps of basement apartments.
That was long ago and men I might have known are dying in the city.
I've named my dreams
and dreamed of a few angels
I was lucky enough to spend a night with.
The mistake was to love men whose mouths went dry,
who placed their hands in their pockets
and squeezed secrets bigger than their hearts.

You thought love was a party on Friday night,
but it may just as well be the ache of a winter marsh,
--the mud cold and slick again,
--the trees stark and simple,
----suns and moons, seasons of rain,
----buzzard-shudders at the finding of food.

The world has come to several bad ends.
I am alone here and frightened.
There is no one to blame, not even you, Fred.
This quarrel is a vagrant storm.
Seeing you I grow thick with life, a migrant shadow
hungry with a great appetitite,
--the pale cold predicament of instinct.

I'd say we all hide in our various terrors,
----our inconsistent hearts.
I can pretend that I have this much choice.

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