Poetry by Joseph Torra


from Time Being

Julia and I clean out my studio and the little room behind water’s been getting in moldy sponge cakes sprout from linoleum throw out two boxes of trash organize paintings and painting desk paints brushes boxes of little cut out pieces unfinished collage sits on the desk last pieces waiting for me to paste in place clear writing desk shelve dozens of books sweep and vacuum floor walk down the trail parts snowed in other parts wind-blown down rocks descend from the high country wander into the back of someone’s yard they’re fishing where the water rushes fast and violent from under a dam he pulls out a fish that has an amphibious head then wide awake worry about the girls worry about my mother waving goodbye driving off in the van alone some desire a bigger house years ago at parties I was first to be unsteady on my feet and what have I learned all these years trying to be a man who could sit in one moment and say that heaven’s music is poetry and chant under a street lamp Julia cuts paper in the little room snorting and sniffing home from school this be my material today September 12 2007 first mushroom walk of the season still holding to summer green the trees throw long shadows tips of leaves brushed rust-pink Sparky bounds ahead circles behind woods dry not enough rain July and August mushrooms will be hard to come by down to the edge of the reservoir past the Keep Out and threat of prosecution sign walk around out of the way inlet under white pines climb the Reservoir Trail up over knoll down into granite cut over wooden footbridge bush-whack back down check out the edge of the swampy stuff not a fungus to be found turn up Skyline Trail slow uphill big hawk swoops over from behind startles us settles high on the branch of an old oak tree Sparky rears barks the bird remains statue still for a moment then gracefully departs over the forest I don’t know my hawks Dan Bouchard could identify that bird here the dying old lady in the three-decker next door is being cared for by hospice people they come and go change of shift for the first time in weeks she’s in the wheelchair on the front porch with a young hospice worker who yells everything she says because the lady has lost her hearing o hawk in the big oak tree Amanda writes that she cried driving through the tunnel red jello spilled into the sky and splattered the back seat risotto with mushrooms caramelized onions and spinach people come and go in uniforms on hospital beds in cars and trucks that cut you off how by some different fate they could be people that you love like the old woman who talks to you in the supermarket line she drank her sorrows away felt shitty the next day driving around in a 67 Dodge Dart listening to Iggy and the Stooges who wouldn’t fall in love with her piles of scraps littering the kitchen floor or how the breezes blow uncertain as the day wavers yesterday’s unopened mail will she or won’t she open windows to the morning air how’s your mother is she any better no she isn’t she’s not going to get any better either in some areas the first frost can be expected the girls do homework Sparky asleep on his bed Molly working at the hospital load of laundry in the dryer another in the washer several loads on deck chicken soup this afternoon Julia says make a big batch Dad will you be available to substitute this year no I won’t be available to substitute this year yes I will continue on as corresponding secretary of the PTA yes I will come in and do poetry yes I can come and be a guest speaker for the poetry and performance club he wandered extensively in his home at times the distance between himself and the center was overwhelming Julia explains how leaves of the tomato plants are poisonous Celeste names the planets in the solar system is Jupiter still considered a planet I thought by now it had become a Catholic Cardinal she needs to have a drink and loosen up if Niedecker doesn’t like being a house cleaner why doesn’t she do something else from the student who in every poem alludes to men calling her beautiful first day of fall temperatures in the 80s still no rain the woods dry mushrooms non-existent carcass of a fly-infested possum she caught a seven legged spider in a cup and left him outside some days I actually think I am good but my horoscope warns against getting comfortable what else am I doing wrong I ask myself the love we put into things we can never get it back I seek to add to the History of the Parting of the Way in ancient times this was known as adding to the History of the Parting of the Way she is a strange misty form like vapor passing into the being of others while they pass within her and become her guests our shapes and limbs our words and thoughts jostle and run into each other a stranger shifts tongues without leaving your home she knows everything under the sky without looking out her window she knows that the farther one travels the less one knows she arrives without going sees without looking in doing nothing achieves everything in watching her die she knows all there is to know about life under harvest moon warm humid temperatures possible record high she was attacked by an escaping guerilla now her parents are suing I keep forgetting dreams that I tell myself I will remember I am in a speed boat I can be sure there’s the city of Boston always the same city of Boston in my dreams or do I think that while dreaming

Joseph Torra is a poet and novelist. His books include The My Ground Trilogy, They Say, Call Me Waiter, What’s So Funny, After the Chinese and Keep Watching the Sky. Time Being, a book length prose poem journal, is forthcoming from Quale Press.

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