My poem “An Endless Afternoon of Now” was just published in the latest issue of Tipton Poetry Journal. For much of the past year, I have been reading all the novels of John Steinbeck and came across a remarkable line from his last novel The Winter of Our Discontent that seemed to cry out for a poetic response. So here’s my poem.
AN ENDLESS AFTERNOON OF NOW
It wouldn’t be bad to be that way, suspended in time—not bad at all, an endless afternoon of now.
~John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent
To enter you must first
choose a now—sitting
on a bench with your
first love and the touch
of her knee against yours
or the way you watched
him through the window
as the train pulled slowly
away from the station—
think of Hopper’s
naked to the dunes,
a cigarette dangling
from her fingers,
and you get the idea.
Make it something for
the ages, something
that looks good on the wall.
First published in Tipton Poetry Journal Issue #33 (see page 30)
There’s a store in the mall selling
personalized engraved gifts
to remember every occasion.
Too bad there’s not a store
to help you forget
engraved on your brain:
that time in second grade
when the bully won and you ran away,
the slap in your daughter’s face
and the slam of the door when she left,
the thud of his head as it hit the windshield,
the look in your wife’s eyes
when she caught you in your naked deceit,
the words that still echo in your head
or the words you should have said,
the relentless pain she endured
that helped you decide at the end,
the hour just before dawn when you
relive the horrors again and again.
No need for fancy gifts—sandpaper
and a buffing wheel will do,
applied judiciously to remove
just enough letters to dull the pain
without losing their meaning,
just enough to let you sleep at night.
Originally published in Tipton Poetry Journal Issue #32 (see page 76). Read more here (click lower right corner to expand to full screen mode).