Tonight he tells me his dream
of an apple tree flowering into a woman
and I get crazy in the thousand-leafed wind.
I invite him to coffee.
Invite his girlfriend and her three daughters
to coffee and bagels and cantaloupe.
Invite everyone to motorcycle
up to the hot springs and the blue eye
of the lake, hotel full of food, swimming
pool cut in rock. Room service happy
to hear from us and some kind of paddle boat
for mom and the kids.
Back in our room he pushes against me
and pushes against me.
News of My Virtuous Doings
The garage on the corner of Sherman and Scott
Was filled with ham radio gear and stale, metallic air.
Rimbaud asked, how’s the roof? He said, I’ll take it.
He spray-painted a bunch of the equipment black
and hung it from the rafters.
For the week he gave up absinthe, he swept the floor
In a cold-turkey daze.
And then swept it again.
He ordered in knickknacks from the endless war
And opening day stacked the counter
With piles of gun magazines, his own scuffed boots
And African postcards he’d mailed himself
To see if he was still alive.
To advertise to the cars on Sprague
Two short blocks north, he stitched semaphore flags
From extra antenna and fifty-cent Value Village shirts.
Squinting in the light, flailing his arms herky-jerky,
John Whalen is the author of Caliban (Northwest Emerging Poets Series, Lost Horse Press) and Above the Pear Trees, which won the 2014 Floating Bridge Press chapbook contest. His work has appeared in CutBank, EPOCH, The Gettysburg Review, Verse Daily, and VQR.