We woke to the sounds
of a man loudly pontificating
the merits of nuclear power.
His dull hacker’s cough
served as crude punctuation
as he extolled the ways
such a plant would surely
save this once proud shore town
from its present oblivion.
Look at us now, he said,
reduced to anecdotal references
in stories about the Great War –
we have become a poor joke.
She turned and in a whisper asked
if this lack of relative privacy
was to be expected. She abhorred
the concepts of shared bathrooms
and thin walls. Now the wafting
aromas of coffee and cigarettes
invaded our visitor’s bedroom
and I assured her that the charm
of such lodgings was in the
idiosyncrasy of such experience.
By our third day there
she learned to sleep through
the older guest’s morning sermons
and to prize this quaint seaside residence
for its abundance of personality
and rickety appeal, a quaint harbor
for vigorous debate in a foreign town
and for stories that would last a lifetime.
Gary Glauber is a poet, fiction writer, teacher, and music journalist. His works have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, as well as “Best of the Net.” He took part in The Frost Place’s conference on teaching poetry. Recent poems are published or forthcoming in Kitchen, Manor House Quarterly, Forty Ounce Bachelors, The Whistling Fire, Xenith, Corium Magazine, Petrichor Review, Sparkbright Magazine, Quantum Poetry Review, Prompt Literary Journal, The Legendary, and StepAway Magazine.
There’s a certain cruelty in her inability to remember,
a carelessness in confessing her inattention for dates,
details, and the memories I thought we shared.
How about that cloudy night when we sat in the darkened car
not far from the nursing college and the furtive train tracks
to discuss her Florida vacation, that long week apart?
Or the time in the library carrel, back behind the stacks
when I made fun of that silly accordion player
before managing to steal a very intimate kiss?
Her vague recollections do not match up with any
of the vivid ones I relate, and suddenly I feel abandoned,
just another melting cube at the bottom of a glass.
Our lives have traveled so far from those simpler days
that the idea of blame is a baseless rash occupation,
one better diverted by a pretty smile preserved.
We were lightning bugs, living for the brief season,
easily caught up in the glass jars of our youthful hopes,
feeling as though that glow might last forever.
Seeing her in this place, attendants hovering nearby,
tempers such nascent illusions through a pragmatic filter,
startling and sad, yet perhaps inevitable too.
This former whirlwind, a once gorgeous windmill
now generates a few weak passes, generating little
in terms of momentum, a small breeze of energy.
The beauty has retreated and as the orange sun sets
we sit together, but I am alone with hollow echoes
of a world that I claim once existed, but did it?
Here I am reciting what seems a distant fiction,
an illusion of time and experience that seems waylaid
along with countless other cultural references.
She is kind to smile, to pretend she knows who I am
as we stop for the intercom’s upbeat touting of activities
to distract residents from their evening’s mundane realities.
A stray cat can be seen lurking near the outside dumpster,
which brings to mind a host of past pets’ names and stories,
a further reminder that soon I should go.
Once she had the power to send my heart soaring
on flights of foolish fancy, puffed up with pride
and the buoyancy of innocent romantic notions.
The dwindling light sends rays dancing across the floor,
and I rise to go, minimizing regrets in strong self-talk
that explains, excuses, and never reaches her ears.
“Are we tired?” the man in the white coat asks her.
When we exchange the niceties that comprise polite farewells,
I finally realize my own disappointed exhaustion.