Today's poem is by Frank X. Gaspar

These Are the Last Good Days of the Republic

That blue chill comes down the street and I can see
the mountains, I can see the snow Gaped over their shoulders
bright as a drum all those miles away, and winter in the sycamores here,
limbs gray and stripped-they dream of the crows, I can tell,
but no one here knows where they have flown. What
I mean is that the light in the sky is low and full of terror now,
the small wild things dance in it, the police cars, when they come
to the neighbors' house across the way, announce their importance
by arriving in clusters and parking backwards. He is a small man, my
neighbor, old, with one arm and three languages. He made his fortune
in furniture until something happened and now, despite the surgeries,
he wanders and raves, he sneaks cigarettes on the front steps when
he thinks his wife isn't looking. Today he is violent again and wants
to drive his car. It's forbidden, but no one can stop him. He wants to
go and look for his grandson who has gone off to the wars. He will not
listen that the wars are in a different place, far away. The police
stand around in the driveway, they talk with him, sometimes for an hour.
I don't understand their function, but I don't ask too much when I speak
with his wife later. She is weary and she hangs her weight on me, which
is fine with me, she lists her medications, we stand in her wild yard. Her
accent is pleasant, like a shiny nail striking a piece of tin, lightly. Good days
and bad days
, she says. Her eyes are gray and blue, her pale hair clings
in tight curls. Her husband smokes a cigarette, quiet now, right in front of her.
The light is bluing all around them, the blue chill, the bare sycamores.
Sometimes late at night I see her kitchen lamp burning. Sometimes she
forgets I have my own trees and brings me dark winter oranges. She leaves
them on the doorstep in plastic bags, tied at the top with impossible knots,
I have to cut them open with a knife.

Copyright © 2012 Frank X. Gaspar All rights reserved
from Late Rapturous
Autumn House Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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