Monday, May 26, 2014

J.K. Durick- Three Poems

                      Straightening up
We learn this early, or perhaps never at all,
The fine art of putting things away when we
Are through, restoring, replacing, cleaning up
After the meal, the party, even simple things
Need this finishing touch, order restored, as if
What happened didn’t happen at all, as if we
Turn back time, return to the way things were
Before the plan became preparation and then
Moved on to whatever left a mess like this, we
Either live with things as they are, or we move
Against them, we start placing them properly
Putting them in their place, cleaning, arranging
Bringing a bit of order to the disorder we made
Being our other self, a bit careless, a bit clumsy
Our active, lovable preoccupied selves, author
Of messes, builder of clutter, heap and tangle
That too busy spokesman for chaos in all of us;
We divide the roles, the labor involved in it,
We muddle and unmake, leave candy wrappers
And empties, disarrange the furniture, fill
The sink with dish after dish, leave clothes and
Footwear enough to dress an army, lights on
And then we turn on ourselves and begin to undo
Pick up, straighten and set it all right once more.

             The Things
There are things we have waited for
wished for, longed for, were certain
we could not live without, absent
things we imagine into being ours
just around the corner things, things
just out of our reach, tomorrow’s
things, tantalizing, tempting things
tormenting and enticing things;
we plan and plot for them, polish
up for them, know they are coming
it’s just a matter of when or where
or how they will arrive, at the door
or on the phone, or through the mail,
and then when they’re finally with us
when the waiting and wishing and all
that imagining have finally borne fruit
we sit back satisfied, admiring them,
our fulfillment, our accomplishment
now they have arrived, we have arrived,
but then we get a bit bored, the things
we have get dusty, rusty, begin to wear
begin to be ironic reminders of times
when we knew what we wanted, needed
and waiting gave us something to do.

                      Dog Shit
Back then, there was something inevitable
about it, part of being young, part of taking
shortcuts, of crossing any lawn, part of being
clumsy, of step -misstep, of hurrying, of just
being around; dogs ran loose back then, part
of the background, the everyday, wagging or
barking, growling or howling, plenty of warning
except where to step, but we learned early
took it in stride, an inevitable bit of business
dragged our shoe through the grass, a stick
would work, a hose if handy, it wasn’t a slow
process, just part of getting home, not wanting
to leave a trail behind us; when we stepped
in it, we really did and then moved on, but
now we hear other dogs from inside their
house, sound and fury at our passing by, as
we trail behind our dogs, bags in hand, on
the alert for a pause in their progress; we
live in such a sanitary world, our dogs and us,
in a world where the shit we face is more
figurative than literal, where when we step
in it, more is sullied than just a shoe, where
cleaning up is far more complicated than
that inevitable rite of passage, that was so
simple to undo, or even simply step around.
J. K. Durick is a writing teacher at the Community College of Vermont and an online writing tutor. His recent poems have appeared in Eskimo Pie, Pacific Poetry, Ink Sweat and Tears, and Muddy River Poetry Review.

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