Mike Meagher ≈ Nine Poems

.

.

Tuesday, June 4, 1991

 — In response to Billy Collins’
poem of the same name

I don’t know if it was to a week-
end of street hockey or baseball

or my tenth birthday party
that I was looking forward

if I was in fact looking
forward to something

or if I was going down the high-
way just outside Ottawa

in the back seat
of my parents’ car

watching the great big
signs slowly approach

before zipping by
at the last second

saying quietly to myself
as they disappeared behind us

remember today, Tuesday
June 4, 1991

making mental notes
of all the odd figures

made from the scratches
on the road signs

or studying the day’s date
on the back of my hand

hard enough to not forget.
But I did. And nine-

teen years later
no less on a Tuesday
I try not to make too much noise
in the King’s College library

with all the wrappers and tops of
containers opening and closing

and wiping sunflower seed oil
onto my work pants

wondering if the shadow
cast across the desk

looks like a face I used to know
or something else interesting

or if that little orange book
sitting on the top of the shelf

has a title worth remembering
nineteen years from now.

.

.

.

Walter

.

There was a bunch of them that had been leaving work five minutes early without incident since way before I started, and then one day the boss—a young fella that got no respect around the shop—came out of his office with a handful of written warnings. And the next day, two minutes before five—I only remember the exact time because when I heard a commotion from the landing at the top of the stairs, a “go fuck yourself”, the type of  “go fuck yourself” that could only come from a man whose voice was gravel and throat skin worn leather, whose back and hands had been splintered from lifting up and throwing around pallets for the last thirty years—I only remember the time because I was in the lunch room in front of the computer. And when I talked to Walter after his suspension, he said that he was an old man—half seriously; that it took him a few minutes to shuffle his way down the stairs, anyways, at the end of the day, and say goodbye to the guys in the mail room before making his way out the door; that it was okay because he would retire soon; that there was nothing to worry about because it got him a day off.

.

.

.

Link Gaetz

.

1.

Showed up at the draft
back in ’88
thought I might get snatched up
in the later rounds
when all the crowds
were gone.
And of course
Modano was called up
in the first
but I swiftly followed,
as his bodyguard,
with two black eyes
after a night on the town.

*

It was in a nowhere town, anyways
that I shot out the pane
of stained glass—
I was aiming for the bell.

*

I did get kicked outta practice
which the police report said
is why I threw the TV
outta the fourth-floor window
of that hotel
but that goddamn door
it was that motherfucking door
that wouldn’t open.

*

After picking up a $900 debt from a man’s house

And so, yeah
I said to the cop
yeah, I took his TV
and I took a shit
on his bed, too,
like you said
but your little report
forgot to mention
that I pissed all over
his couch, too.

*

Nick Fotiu, an ex-NHL brawler who coached Link in ’94 when with the Nashville Knights down in the minors:

So Link had been out all night drinking when I got a phone call and went over to a house where he was holding the entire team hostage—without a weapon    and he answered the door with a beer in his hand and I said c’mon, Link, let’s go, grabbing the beer out of his hand   ’cause I could control him when I was around    and he lost it    and so we went toe-to-toe, into the kitchen, over the couches, over tables ’til the cops showed up    and at five in the morning Link comes by my house wanting to fight and I say no    and at eight he comes by again wanting to go for breakfast.

2.

Addiction’s asterisk—unfinished viaduct
devil’s derelict—eden’s error
bluebacked beefhead—coach’s cancer
roid-sauced tabloid—forest of formaldehyde
gestapo’s gorilla—insolent ibex
juggling juggernaut—knock-kneed knuckler
lover’s lobotomy—he-man’s hyde
owner of oedipal’s prick—
x-man,
yielding zilch—

A few catch ups
I wanna get away from
now that I got a wife
and a little girl—
who woulda thought.

.

.

.

Spare Time

.

“When you got spare time
you don’t ever wanna make it
look like you got any
’cause not even
the union can protect you
if you’re out parked somewhere
having a snooze or a cigarette. And now
you didn’t hear it from me, but what happens
with some of the guys
is they forget a tool back at the shop
and don’t notice
till they get to the site; that means
they gotta go back to get it
then drive to the site again
before they can start working. Some of them
even got in the habit of
thinking they forgot something
and so they head back, not knowing
the tool was in the back of the truck
all along.”

.

.

.

Calluses

.

But you’d never get them
between the bases of your
fingers because no matter
how bad the ridge of skin
curls up against the handle,
no matter how hard it’s
pushed on, there’s nothing
—like a muscle—to push back.

.

.

.

Tuesday morning

.

i. bucking a tree

the curled chunks of maple
wood piling up neatly be-
tween my feet—a lazy wisp
of flurries.

ii. after

for lunch, (a few knots
of) walnuts.

Bucking a Tree

Bucking a tree this morning
a lazy wisp of flurries
the curled chunks of maple
piled up neatly
a heap of organization
every couple feet
In the basement
of the library
a few knots of wal-
nuts for lunch.

.

.

.

Drought

.

drought summer
three weeks
eight weeks
how long since rain?

*

lazy night
a stream of thought
here it is

*

two a.m.
a haiku starts
and so, too, the rain

.

.

.

City From an Airplane

.

Somewhere between
Ottawa and Halifax

after three
hours in the car

outside on the shoulder
smoking, cars passing

so different
from out here

like seeing a city
from an airplane.

.

.

.

Loose Tobacco

.

The loose tobacco
in the drawer

maybe two grams

for a month, now

in need of an
orange peel.

.

 

“Tuesday, June 4, 1991” was previously published in The Antigonish Review; “Walter” was published in Freefall; “Link Gaetz” was published in Prism International; and “Spare Time” was published in The Prairie Journal.

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