J.R. Solonche

MAILBOX
 
My neighbor’s mailbox has a broken jaw.
It hangs there. It can’t be closed.
Which means when I pass by,
I can see if there’s mail in it or not.
Most of the time there isn’t.
When there is, it’s one or two envelopes.
White or blue. Flat. They look like bills.
Never a newspaper. Never even a catalog.
I envy him. But I also feel sorry for him.
I keep telling myself I’ll write him a letter.
Just so he’d get something other than
those flat blue and white envelopes.
But I never do. What would I write?
Dear neighbor, This is just a note so you
could get something other than those blue
and white envelopes. Sincerely, Your
neighbor. I think I’ll just keep doing
what I’ve been doing all these years.
Return his broken wave with my broken wave.
 
 
 
MY GRANDFATHER ON MY MOTHER’S SIDE
 
My grandfather on my mother’s side had a favorite saying.
Live in the moment is what he said.
So I lived in the moment.
 
My grandmother on my father’s side had a favorite saying.
Live for the moment is what she said.
So I lived for the moment.
 
One of my uncles had a favorite saying.
Live by the moment is what he said.
So I lived by the moment.
 
A zen master in a book I read had a favorite saying.
Live as the moment is what he said.
So I lived as the moment.
 
A zen master in another book I read had a favorite saying.
Live with the moment is what he said.
So I lived with the moment.
 
My friend Jeff has a favorite saying.
Live without prepositions is what he says.
So I live moments. So moments are what I live.
 
 
 
NEXT TO THE OLD MOUNTAIN LAUREL
 
Next to the old mountain laurel
that is all but dead, there are only three
or four live clusters of leaves left,
and these but barely, I planted another
mountain laurel, young and vigorous,
all living green, free of blemish, not
a dead spot to be found anywhere,
with a future of many years ahead of it.
I did this to make the old mountain man
jealous, jealous enough to keep on going.
Why not? It works with old men sometimes.
 
 
 
SONNET OF THE BLACKBIRD
 
The eye of the blackbird
in which there are three blackbirds.
In the autumn winds, whirled the blackbird.
One? A man and a woman and a blackbird.
The just-after blackbird? Or the whistling blackbird?
The shadow of an indecipherable blackbird.
Haddam’s thin men are not blackbirds.
You’ve got rhythm, lucid, inescapable blackbird.
 
One of many circles was the blackbird.
Cry out sharply, you bawds of blackbirds!
Connecticut’s glass is equipped with barbaric blackbirds.
The flying river moves like a blackbird.
In the cedar-limbs sat the snowy blackbird.
Baked into a pie sang four and twenty blackbirds.
 
 
 
THE MISSISSIPPI
 
is a pencil.
It is a pen.
 
It has been writing the story of water
since time immemorial.
 
It is the strip
of silver tape holding the ripped continent together.
 
It is the slick track
of the snail of the hemisphere.
 
It is the wick
of the oil lamp of the nation furiously burning out.
 
It is a bone, a shin bone.
It is a steel eel.
 
It is a stick.
It is a whip.
 
It is a divining rod.
It is a little history.
 
It is how America
takes a piss in the Gulf of Mexico.