Jacob Norlund CC
where this place begins and ends, i am that
this town is like a flannel shirt with a hole in it
hanging on the line to dry. this town only whispers
when it’s twilight, it could be 150 years ago or next week.
this town has blisters on its feet and its hair is overdue
for a cut. i ran into this town at the grocery store, it was
buying hamburger and a loaf of bread. i know this town
from way back, my father knew its father, they were
volunteer firefighters and members of the eagles lodge.
this town is like a candle burning in the window, no one
watching, and a baseball game crackles on the radio.
i have seen this town clean up after a storm, picking
up broken branches and sweeping muddy water onto
flattened grass. where this place begins and ends,
i am that, a compilation of all its joy and misery,
foundation stones and green copper civil war statues,
its grinding teeth, residue of stars, and sad inertia.
when a place becomes you, there is no escape from layers
of memory; history. Today workers replace worn red bricks
in the street, by the town square, and no one has any idea who
they know or where they came from other than here.
old ford truck
the man who lives on the corner
stands in the gravel driveway
with the hood of his old ford truck
he scratches his gray hair,
holds a wrench in the other hand.
sprays starter fluid into the carburetor,
holds down the metal flap with his
yells, crank it again!
the engine grinds and grinds, but
does not turn over.
inaudible words, grabs a greasy rag
mindlessly wipes off a screwdriver.
this happens every few weeks or so.
the truck has seen better days, but he
keeps it together with wire and duct tape
wringing one more month out of it.
in the drivers’ seat his wife sits,
wears a checkered jacket, leans her head
against her hand, elbow resting on
the open window as the breeze blows in
crank it again! he yells, and she turns
the key, but it sounds like the battery
is wearing down now,
the starter galloping
slower and slower.
he wipes his nose with the sleeve of his shirt,
stares under the hood, hoping a solution
will rise out of pipes and metal,
hidden in gasoline vapor like a ghost
son in trouble
we sit in my kitchen with bottles of beer
you tell me your son is up against it,
the first heroin overdose was bad enough,
the second thank god for the narcan,
swishing the beer around in the bottle
you ask where you went wrong.
i want your opinion, where did i go wrong
he played on all of the sports teams, was
the quarterback in football, pitcher in
i consider this as you talk on.
was it the car you bought him when he
was sixteen, maybe it was too fast. the
girls he brought home, all of them pretty
his grades, which were good enough to get
by, not good enough to get into the best
you confide that you asked your
boss to put him on one of the crews for
the summer and he never went back
to college, learning to drive trucks,
taking the second shift for extra cash
when that was available.
you ask me
did i try to do too much? his mother
was never a very good parent. his sister
always did everything right.
i finish my
beer, ask him if he wants another one,
he says he does, drawing circular designs
on the kitchen table with his finger, his
left eye twitching, shadows descend
do not ascend
mark s kuhar is a cleveland, ohio-based writer, poet, editor, publisher and songwriter. His work has appeared, among other places, in the anthologies “An Eye for an Eye Makes the Whole World Blind: Poets on 9/11” (Regent Press); America Zen (Bottom Dog Press); “Action Poetry” (a LitKicks publication); “Cleveland in Prose & Poetry,” (League Press); ArtCrimes #21; Trim: A Mannequin Envy Anthology; Infinite Tide (Studio Eight Books); as well as in “The Long March of Cleveland,” “Ornamental Iron,” “Mac’s turns a New Trick” and “Anthologese the Next,” among others published by Green Panda Press; and forthcoming in “I Thought I Heard A Cardinal Sing, Ohio’s Appalachian Voices.” He has published five chapbooks: “acrobats in catapult twist” (2003); “laughing in the ruins of chippewa lake park” (2004); “e40th & pain: poems from deep cleveland” (2006); “mercury in retrograde” (2016) and “seymour’s poems.” (2017). He holds a BA in English, with a specialization in Creative Writing (1980) from Ohio University, Athens, Ohio.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.