Benjamin Vogt >


Unemployed on a Summer Porch in Marysville, OH

It is nearly past evening and clouds spread
thin like smoke over houses. The radio says
rain is falling somewhere but you let
voice fade in a sudden breeze
which erases, rephrases what you hear.

When you were a boy your mother sang
late-night lullabies you heard on television-
ads for Texas, Pan Am, Chevrolets.
You felt as if your were full of going,
as you do now, the lips of shirt sleeves
open like sails, yet moored to lawn chair.

It is almost dark and you can see
the break in clouds grown smaller,
bruised to purple then black. You've turned
radio off, begun humming to yourself—
even nightingales are hiding their desire.



A Call to Arms

A dozen wind-scrawled silver streams retreat
across the field of soybeans, wind confluence
lit by rotating leaves, dew shimmied down
the distant stalks like I.V. drips to veins.
Reflections bounce erratically like mini
caps on Erie, then stutter Kmart plastic
bag-like, impaled by saplings in the rough.

This is an August cold front—rarely I
rejoice within the summer solstice. Even
before I woke my body stirred the mind,
shivered blankets up to neck until I choked
with sleeplessness. And once opened,

then moved with such specific joy, I stood
on my deck and bellowed like a wolf, a chainsaw-
gutteral dislodging from creaking trees,
a warrior with sword in hand and endless
lushness with which to spill myself upon.

Such mornings could not be more perfect, save
the neighbors, peering from their window's belly,
jealous they didn't act on this before.
We know life dangerously like falling leaves
and circling hawks not fighting gravity.
Together, we could hurry autumn on.



Rising Up from Mulberry Street

With the window open jayhawks belch
their search-sounds into rooms with
chenille sofas, leather wingbacks,
wood floors that roll the echo deep
from outer room to inner. It is as
some memory of the tree, now flat,
stained and polished, is still upright
in the minds of birds. That they know
this house needs their being from
the inside out, displaced like a locomotive
pawing through the prairie, sky stuffed
with low gray clouds, metal cawing off-pitch,
belly burning oak and maple incense.
They know the fiber of motion rests
in their communiqué, fills the hollow made
by closed doors, plaster walls, streets perched
in rolling miles of replicate splendor.
Who else will believe if the silence stays.