David M. Harris had never lived more than fifty miles from New York City, until 2003. Since then he has moved to Tennessee, married, acquired a daughter and a classic MG, and gotten serious about poetry. All these projects seem to be working out pretty well. His work has appeared in Pirene’s Fountain (and in First Water, the Best of Pirene’s Fountain anthology), Gargoyle, The Labletter, The Pedestal, and other places. His first collection of poetry, The Review Mirror, was published by Unsolicited Press in September, 2013. On Sunday mornings, at 11 AM Central time, he talks about poetry on WRFN-LP in Pasquo, TN (www.radiofreenashville.org).
Dead Letter Office: Stacy Davies
I’ll never know why you did it.
We were never close, surely not enough
for me to discover your sorrows. Was there
one shock? Something in the mail that day?
Or some thorn embedded so deep
there was no other way to remove it?
Young, pretty, talented. But your life
lacked something – or you thought it did.
There was some flaw that could only be repaired
with a rope and light fixture.
I had moments, when Kate was teaching me
to divorce her, when life seemed
a burden. But moments only, not a plan.
Not a plan to act on.
What were you, twenty-four?
At sixty-four, I look back
at what I would have given up –
at what you did give up – and wonder what
could earn that cost. I’ll never know.
With any luck at all, I’ll never know.
Waiting for night, they drift down the
midway, trailing nervous nicotine clouds,
huddled to themselves. The cotton candy
T-shirts stand aside to let darkness through.
These crave dark alleys and smoky
coffee houses with Italian names, the shadows
of tall buildings, but they’re stuck
in the county seat. They flaunt their piercings,
their spikes, before the sheep, the show
chickens, between the corndogs and the Tilt-a-whirl.
They laugh at 4-H projects with an edge
of fearful recognition, know the lure
of pies and jams and San Francisco,
and cruise the fair’s lanes, seeking
a future that doesn’t bleat.
Sitting there before class, he faces
the window and speaks.
I remember people on the street,
talking to no one. Outpatients.
He turns, speaks again.
I notice the earpiece. He doesn’t notice me.
I’m only the teacher.
He is sharing space with someone.
Other students float in.
The classroom fills, more solitudes
enter, thumbs and tongues atwitter,
not seeing their bubbles of private space,
some of which will pop when I speak.
Out of the Wild
Sound ricochets through the valley,
across the river, bank to bank.
From the porch, you hear the wails
that sound at first like sirens.
The dog rises, nervous, and sniffs,
and stays close. He knows
his cousin’s call. Just beyond Manhattan’s
night-time glow, coyotes haunt these hills.
In the morning, you grab the train for Grand Central,
while wildness sleeps in your backyard.
Do poets of the old suburban towns
pray vainly to Apollo for a theme,
a subject worthy of their bardic gowns?
Connecticut seems not a poet’s dream.
Of shopping malls and high schools they could write,
of subdivisions, nannies, SUV’s.
But smooth and lustrous surfaces don’t quite
inspire great art, nor do these quiet scenes.
But look inside that mall, or listen close
to mowers moaning of their ordered lives.
The chaos held at bay engenders ghosts
who stalk the perfect families with knives.
The poets wait the rise of bogeymen,
silent upon a peak in Darien.