- — Richard Avedon, March 12th, 1976
- Whether or not he won,
- Humphrey looks like the candidate
- who lost: no sensual lip,
- cheeks drawn, eyes slanted
- wary of hawks. Vietnam
- has ended. In a gallery
- crowded with faces looking
- at faces my mother can’t recall
- his name. Don’t tell your father
- I never voted for Nixon.
- Didn’t she watch us
- burning ourselves to hell?
- Over ghost paper, a presence —
- Humphrey’s still here:
- I can almost shake the hand
- of one whose name sounds
- like he shrugs too much, whose face
- loses nothing in gray, born
- in a land of lace and hymnals,
- Sundays spent on church
- and Mondays worrying
- (don’t tell the women)
- what to do about the Russians.
- Visit a beekeeper to learn about stings.
- Summer drips cream. Lesson yourself
- in honey, contemplate sidewalk botany —
- penny flowers — talking away
- the day to willing neighbors. Months
- lumber by like streetcars take them slow.
- Only your father seems less than permanent,
- coming and going at hours, while teachers
- sing for a face that’s known to reveal joy.
- Flip switches, toggling between good
- and evil. The world obeys your commands.
- In the evening, clocks and mothers
- return shelter as you gesture toward
- the window and darkness she can’t hear.
Night Sky Calling
- I prick at window-cries
- peek through curtains spy faces
- or listen to drunken voices
- singing off-key but at least
- they’re singing. The same voice
- I’ve heard it more than once
- some woman moaning no.
- How do I keep what’s mine
- from hers? Squeaky-mouthed
- hooker who curses out her john
- forgoes the rules of traffic.
- Midnight invaders want nothing
- but a night-share on these streets
- which seem so placid by day.
Keith Ekiss is a Jones Lecturer in Creative Writing at Stanford University and a former Wallace Stegner Fellow in poetry. He is the author of Pima Road Notebook (New Issues Poetry & Prose, 2010) and translator of The Fire’s Journey, an epic poem by the Costa Rican writer Eunice Odio forthcoming from Tavern Books in four volumes. Territory of Dawn: The Selected Poems of Eunice Odio was published in spring 2016 by the Bitter Oleander Press. He is a former Robert Frost Fellow in poetry at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference.
Share / Tools