Fall 2012

Volume 7, Issue 2



American Dream


It was hard to get to know the neighbors in the brick house,
the old commodities broker retired in the basement,
his sister upstairs, who won the Bette Davis lookalike contest,
but finally on the 4th of July they came out for the parade,

sat in lawn chairs on the sidewalk, laughed and drank beer.
We all got along, but Bette looked straight ahead
at one moment and, loud enough, muttered to her brother,
“What she did to that fence,” as if she couldn’t believe any of it.

Only now, in August, while the blue morning glories burst
one by one on the diamond fence, is it possible to look back
to the day I tore off all the vines thinking they were nightshade
that first spring, when I knew nothing, when there was no one

outside in the back yard to ask.  None of us stayed forever
the way the vines do.  Bette didn’t pay her taxes, the church
bought them up, her home is a halfway house now, and we
left the city.  This year I asked my neighbors if I could drop

seeds along the property line and send morning glories
twining around the metal diamonds, not knowing they’d
climb dead branches to the power lines, blanket the hedge.
Some will open red, some blue, and soon the moonflower

will open, too, so when we step out into our yards in evening
we’ll share that fragrance and squint into the dusk at white
blossoms, fairy dresses, open secrets, all faintly blurred
behind the fireflies and in the surround sound of cicadas.




The Art of Ghosts


Home again to you, after the city, an art gallery:
tricycle made of buttons,

table of ancient corn harvesting tools
set down in handmade cups and bowls,

handful of coins stitched into a pattern
clasped by an embroidery hoop,

circlet of the artist’s hair.
I’ve seen an old friend who cut apples

into slices for us, opened wine,
unwrapped chocolate.  I’ve slept

in her extra bed, and now, don’t ask me
how, but we are the future dead,

moments before a cold rain. Thunder
pretends to threaten us like the red-eyed dog

in Ghostbusters, but it’s all going to work out.
Just listen to that crazy song.




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© 2012 Americana: The Institute for the Study of American Popular Culture