The 2River View 26.2 (Winter2022)

Michael Lauchlan

The Rest

Staring          I tell you that once
I ran a jackhammer          Or          small

as I was          I rode along
on its bucking downward imperatives

as it  pierced a slab and made
a small contribution to my hearing loss

Later          we added our ungainly chunks
to the hills of a concrete recycling yard

I was locked in battle with gravity
No more          Tonight

a neighbor’s leaf blower contends
with news and phones that chirp

elsewhere          elsewhere          Meanwhile
outside in the loud dusk          a cottonwood

is whispering bright and dark and our eyes
play over a bowl of peaches that burn

for sweetness          for this moment of light
as our hands find hands and cheeks

to touch          and we retain
what nests within an hour


Set on creosote-drenched sleepers
hauled by horse cart and handcar
through miles of woody bog,
rails glow in early light
as if lit from within, howl
with red suggestion, horn wail
gut longing, and train whistle
distance even when there’s no train,
just kids tossing rocks at signs,
walking along the one path
their parents don’t know.
In spite of all that’s been
and what’s next, these rails
lift us for a while, as when
eight bars of brass supplication
cut through the smoke of an old
jazz club and lifted our heads
as the slim alto player vanished
into a solo, eyes closed, soul
fixed on the line of players
in a million bars, a line back
to words wept on a railroad platform
and every goodbye since,
every beaten, begging return,
and all who’ve blown tracks,
rivers, and willows through a reed
or tried to say real words
out loud to a lover.

Michael Lauchlan has contributed to Bellingham Review, New England Review, The North American Review, Poet Lore, Southern Poetry Review, and Virginia Quarterly Review. His most recent collection is Trumbull Ave (WSU Press).

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