Today's poem is by James Haug
Idiot Means Good Luck
Too bad the storm cellar could fit all of us
but one. A little boy cried, Everybody! Maybe
it was possible. Pretty Polly had disappeared
through a fence hole with the propane man.
A sandwich wrapper blew across the tracks.
The purple structure looking like a whorehouse
at the end of Old Main had no cellar at all,
just sat there on the ground like a fallen woman.
Stand barefoot in the middle of the living room
and you’d feel the grave cold of the earth
rise through your soles, March wind balled under
the joists, the ground frozen well into spring.
Tornadoes were rare in that neck of the woods.
Still, storm cellars were considered good insurance.
But the sky was tricky, like being in Albany
on April Fool’s Day, brightening out of nowhere,
all that modern concrete leaning against nothing,
politicians waiting for the light to change, the striped
crosswalks, zones of immunity, suggestions really,
and a stiff wind that comes from all across New
York State to rough up a hot dog vendor. The pols
at lunch tool plans for the river, denying everything
they said yesterday. A cast iron bridge spans
the river south of the city, changing color as daylight
shifts, and I dream of crossing it; by nightfall
it’s glowing, reefers barreling westward.
What river is that, I said, pointing, and the boy,
the same boy, answered wistfully, The Ganges. A very
good answer, I told him, but wrong. I remember
Thanksgiving dinner at the whorehouse, interrupting
the Madame’s toast, I couldn’t stop talking, it was
strange, I accepted that; I seemed to be on the verge
of explaining something, but I lost what came next.
A consensus had emerged, well nearly a consensus,
as the twister loomed over the Howard’s dairy farm,
about who would be left outside. It was a problem,
I tried to convince them as I pounded on the bulkhead,
for which there could never be an ideal solution.
Copyright © 2009 James Haug All rights reserved
from Legend of the Recent Past
The National Poetry Review Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission
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