BRIAN LE LAY // Two Poems
On Father's Day at the tavern
Every man and woman is named John,
Maybe a few Joes sprinkled in,
A timeless Walter coming or going
Has a story about an Oldsmobile
He met in a bar, dreamed a dizzying dream
Of marrying, but she rusted from
Underneath and died that first winter.
I tell sardonic jokes about paper cups
And orange juice. Nobody understands.
I'm too new. Left-handed in spirit,
Makes sense to align to the left of things.
Everybody at the lodge who'd been
Present at Valley Forge forked his eggs,
Chalked me up to "an age thing,"
Got a good guffaw out of it.
I've never been ashamed. I've been angry.
These laminated menus were made
For the former, not lamentation.
Those flowers they sell at the door,
Guilt, gasping for water, dead
By the time you find a seat.
They say you'll look back fondly
Through a periscope, romanticize
A life was pure suffering powder
Distilled from a leaf. A boy I remember,
Motivated only to fistfights, near-expulsions.
Another became a boardwalk cop,
Lived with grandparents
In a strange cottage, narrow corridor,
Lit a Welcome rug on fire. No light,
Even that brought in dark jars
From Dubai, could illuminate
Those old rooms. We're fascinated
By ourselves. For now,
That's all we agree on.
Distracted from counting
The white masts of ships
Framed by the long window
Of a passing train
A businessman in brown
Crocodile shoes, cast-iron
Eagle crest on his lapel
Sharpens the creases
In his dawn-blue slacks
Between index finger
And thumb. Sunlight
Flashes in shapes
Like construction paper
scraps, jagged and fleeting
Like the frames of a silent film
In which the women weep
In that silent unserious
Glowing way only lost
Starlets can. We pass
Along a lake which
With its early morning waves
Is a pair of crumpled dungarees
A comic strip of power-lines
And breakfast shops
Passing much too quickly
To count the ships.
Brian Le Lay's poems have appeared in Uppagus, The Blue Hour, Drunk Monkeys, and Gutter Eloquence. His chapbook, The Virtues of Concrete, is forthcoming from ELJ Publications in 2014.