Construction Literary Magazine

Fall 2020

Two Poems

Two Poems

Photograph via Flickr by Jo & Paul

All I Have is News

-my 9-year-old’s caption to one of his drawings

Dawn’s tea light through the etched
isinglass of the bus stop, Monday morning
the color of concrete. The newsstand

vendor lowers his face into the steam
of his coffee, while behind him a thin song
drifts like a wood scent, burned leaves,

from some past I can’t place.  Brittle
handbills on the kiosk rattling their warped
calendars, quick skiff of newsprint

down the street. I know that song

from somewhere, its tinned minor chords,
plainchant boxed in was, in lost—in
that other yesterday, as my child

used to say. His own past a brief
blurred mural behind him, his face
floating its descant into this white

sky’s steam and exhaust. Lie down,
he used to say, his motion halting mine,
lie down mama look at the clouds


In the Heart of the Heart

Plate glass glare and the tick
of the second hand. Clocking out,
locking up, quick click of the latch.
Then home through the busy stasis
of sunset. Pressed crease of October,
gold leaf flaking the air.

My boarding house tucked
at the street’s stubbed dead-end,
dried cornstalks fretful behind it.
The whole building made of balsawood,
listing in the prairie wind.  Woodsmoke,
distant rush of the highway.

I could always hear him coming.
He wore boondoggled boots, he drove
a hammered blue ‘68 Nova.

Someday you’ll find me out, he’d say,
someday you’ll see the truth and
I won’t be able to bear it.  But who was I
to see anything, paying my tiny bills.
Each day opening its worn valise of next
and necessary and now. My single room
overlooking a body shop, the mechanic
leaning in its doorway, his smoke rings
floating their zeros.

His pale hands, Chaplin eyes.
The deckled edges of the evening.
Someday you’ll find me, that voice a shell
against my ear. And all I could hear
was the listened-for not arriving, the highway’s
crest and recede of departure. One ocean
just as far away as the other.