Seattle, Washington

30 September 2006

Three Poems

My Grandfather's Heaven

Poet's Bio



Buck Rodgers,
 The love of your life
 Is a ten thousand year old Chinese man
 Disguised as a beautiful space cadet
 Who went through
 The dull cruelty
 Of limbo
 For dumb

Madame Bovary,
 Your lover
 Will make you a mockery.
 Your husband will be
 As South Dakota

 You will leave
 Rock star dreams
 Dismiss the Cinderellas
 And marry a wicked stepmother

Mrs. Rochester,
 Your husband
 Locked you in an attic.
 It got worse
 After that

 You been engaged
 Four times
 But never married.
 “One more”
 You said
 “And I’ll have one
 For the thumb”

 You never been with a man
 More than six months,
 Nor single
 Since sixteen
 You’re thirty-six
 In August
 Maybe that’s why
 You hate

Mr. Cranefly,
 You have twenty-four hours
 From the egg
 To mature
 And die.
 What are you doing

 And you,
 You there
 In the notebook,
 Mr. Poet,
 Defending your life
 Like a squid
 With the ink,
 Your troubles
 Aren’t even
 Worth mentioning




After that first mouthful of coffee
 Translates through the tongue
 The order to your cells,
 "Go ahead now,
 Wake up the skin"

After parking
 Pulling the handle
 And stepping out under
 Is falling from heaven

After the chair
 That squeaks
 When you lean
 Like it can't shut up
 About an injury
 It got
 Playing football
 In high school

After the air choir of fans
 That prevent the hearts
 Of smart machines
 From burning up their brains

After the leftovers
 In Tupperware
 Steam up the break room microwave
 While your sister's voice
 Rings warnings
 About plastic
 In your head

After the afternoon lull
 After the urge to nap
 After the stiff neck
 Tired feet
 Sore ass
 After the desperate return
 To the coffee cup

After the emotions
 Of managers, co-workers, clients
 Like rock piles
 That complicate the harbor
 Between the old labor colony
 Of Sitka 
 And the freedom
 Of the sea

After the
 "After you?"
 "No, after you's"
 Navigate the barriers
 Of clenched teeth
 At the bottleneck
 Of the door
After the meal
 For an astronaut

After wrestling
 Or alcoholism
After you have disengaged yourself
 From all the screens
 Took off your clothes
 Flossed your teeth

 We'll be here
 Open as Highway 101
 Patient as old growth
 La Push
 Neah bay
 Free and sweet like August:
 The blackberries
 The purring cat for your lap--
 Always always always
 We will not
 Go away



My Grandfather's Heaven


I met her on the road/She stole my heart/Where is she now?
                       Å Jänta Å Ja {oh yan-tuh oh yah} (Oh Girl, Oh Yes)
                             Old Swedish folk song

My Grandfather’s Heaven

 Goes early with white breath
 Down puddle dirt roads
 Seldom used
 To fishing holds
 By fish well traveled

 There are cigarettes and cribbage games
 With angles
 He’d (when men) known,
 Bent once,
 By work
 But laughing now,
 Straight and easy
 As trees

My Grandfather’s heaven
 Is ten
 Instead of factory stubs
 And the breath there
 Moves effortless

It’s sun on cold mornings
 And quick bites without warning
 And the steelhead are singing
Å Jänta Å Ja



Arne Pihl