Tim Suermondt is the author of Trying to Help the Elephant Man Dance(The Backwaters Press, 2007) and two chapbooks from Pudding House and The Manny Trio Press. He has published work in Poetry, The New York Quarterly, The Georgia Review, New South, Southern Poetry Review, Poetry East, Bellevue Literary Review and Poetry Northwest, among others. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, the poet Pui Ying Wong.
SAVING THE WORLD
I walk in the sunlight,
my wife by my side.
The city is crowd whipped
and we duck into a movie house
on a side street and hide out
like a pair of fugitives
until the coast is clear and dark.
At the harbor we watch the lights
thread the opposite shore, my wife
brushing strands of black hair
from her face just like the actress
we saw too beautiful to forget.
He knows a real revolution—
beatings and prisons
instead of late night talks in cafes
and shouts of solidarity from afar.
He spins his stories better
than a spider if it could—any trace
of bitterness in the beginning
forgotten for hope at the end.
He’ll suggest “Let’s walk a poem”
and recite one he believes he wrote,
often saying “beautiful as a senorita”—
often holding onto my arm for balance.
On a slower than usual slow Sunday
I walk along a row of books
in the Brooklyn Central Library,
slightly blinded by the combination
of sun and artificial light.
Since I’m in the poetry section
I have the books to myself. I take
my time canvassing the terrain of beauties,
those both slick looking or dog-eared.
It’s good to be visiting the poets
I love, and the ones I no longer do—
nonetheless we remain friends.
A large paperback anthology from
the sixties is loaded with manifesto poems:
Did we really believe such stuff?
Poets who chiseled their verses
out of frozen blocks of ice were once
the rage, the only rage in town
and have settled in here, lonely but majestic.
I laugh over a contemporary poet’s
homage to the bonehead in each of us
and every particle in the universe.
I’m deeply moved by a poem lamenting
the death of a soldier, and I side with
the Spanish boy who cheers for the bull.
The lights start to flicker, momentarily
turning a red raspberry color. I hear Dante
thumping—Stanley, Jane, David and Rachel
as well, alive again like the butte blossoms
adorning the Plaza, highlighting my stroll back.
THE WINDOW WASHERS
Seven stories up they grapple and swing
with balance and spot on execution.
They remind me when I worked outside,
the sun often so searing I was sure one day
my sweat would turn me into a river.
The sun this time is an asset, benevolent
and beautiful and the men can caress
the glass and hardly wipe their brow.
I salute them with a two-handed wave
and they salute back with their wipers,
this mutual admiration of artists in full
bloom, a beauty to behold from any height.
The dogs (not mine) and I
love to take the path to the train tracks—
love when the Silverliner speeds by,
shocking up our hair while we slowly
close our eyes and dream of realms
as real as they are imagined.
We’d like to abide the entire day,
but we have responsibilities.
The dogs run off, barking.
I neither run nor bark, but trek back down
just as thankful, just as happy.