Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Tuesday poem #113 : Steve McOrmond : An Arkansas Love Story

For C.D. Wright and in memory of Frank Stanford

The dismal he did so well,
it went down smooth and easy.

Mama said he had a voice       
for the radio ministry. You got along

like a house on fire. You know, he asked
one evening, shimmying out of his jeans,

At the start of the Civil War, a quarter
of the state’s population were slaves?

You had passed the afternoon together
in courtly decadence, sitting out

under the shade tree with a pile of books,
a fresh pack of smokes and a bottle

you passed back and forth with great
ceremony, fancying yourselves misguided

followers of Rousseau, costumed as savages,
playing at pastoral on the south lawn.

Gradually his eyes grew more wild
and dark, so you retired early, whereupon

with three quick taps on his breastbone,
he pursued his thought, Maybe our deaths

are herein enslaved, desiring to be set free.
Like a raccoon trapped in the cellar

or a wasp between panes. You couldn’t tell
if it was a question or something he knew

for a certainty. Upon his naked chest, you laid
both palms flat. Congenital defect, you said,

then pushed hard, so that he staggered
back and sprawled, laughing, on the bed,

atop your grandma’s quilt, which was,
as it happened, just where you wanted him.

Steve McOrmond is a Canadian poet who has published three collections of poetry, most recently The Good News about Armageddon (Brick Books 2010), which was shortlisted for the 2011 ReLit Award. His second collection, Primer on the Hereafter (Wolsak and Wynn 2006), was awarded the Atlantic Poetry Prize. His debut collection, Lean Days (Wolsak and Wynn 2004), was shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Award, which recognizes the best first book of poetry published by a Canadian. His work has been anthologized in Breathing Fire 2: Canada’s New Poets and has appeared widely in literary journals and magazines including Bei Mei Feng (China), Humanist Perspectives, Jacket, Malahat Review and The National Post’s Afterword. He lives in Toronto. Visit www.stevemcormond.com or https://twitter.com/Steve_McOrmond.

the Tuesday poem is curated by rob mclennan

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