“The Straight and Narrow” by Iain Haley Pollock and “Beautiful World” by Colin Hay

Near the house that spills banjo music,
the one guarded by a porch stacked

with encyclopedias, ripped out car seats
and outmoded computer screens,

a smell like death stops me. A smell
of slow rot. Across the street, an old man

is mowing his lawn for the last time
before winter, but it isn’t the mix

of gasoline and cut grass I smell.
Searching the road for a mashed squirrel

or a drain seeping sewage onto the asphalt,
I find nothing. Nothing at the shotgun house

next door, where the former plot of sickly cabbage
has been uprooted and the soil turned over.

As church bells begin to call out the hour,
competing with the mower’s whine, a man–

tattooed face and knit cap worn in all weather–
appears on the porch, wringing the neck of a Miller Lite

in the young morning. I pretend to watch
a stray cat lick a length of calico fur along its spine,

envying the man his public display of freedom, of pain.
A flurry of leaves flies off the overarching maples,

and he tips his bottle at me, then takes a short, sharp swig.
It would be easy to climb the steps and join him,

to spend the day there, trading trips to the fridge
and meandering stories, and some roseate part

of my mind urges my body toward this. That piece of me
remembers rollicking nights in open fields, slurred vows

of happiness, stumbling promises of love,
and cannot understand why we have cast off

such things. That piece–I have to remind it
of the rooms with no windows, of waking

in pools of my own anger and remorse.
I nod back at the man, and head for the corner,

arriving as the bus stops and exhales. My token
chimes into the collection box, and when I find a seat

next to a boy–crowned with headphones
and bopping to a faintly audible beat–the bus

banks away from the curb and into the clear-headed day.

“The Straight and Narrow” by Iain Haley Pollock, from After Shocks, The Poetry of Recovery for Life-Shattering Events

“Beautiful World” by Colin Hay

“I watch the sun as it comes up, I watch it as it sets, yeah this is as good as it gets…”

Gratefully celebrated nine years sobriety yesterday with a happy, healthy and mostly recovered Sadie dog (my Aussie Cattle Dog mix who was bit by a Copperhead last week). Thank you to everyone who sent us well-wishes and positive thoughts. So grateful for you, Christy


“As One Listens To The Rain” by Octavio Paz

Listen to me as one listens to the rain,
not attentive, not distracted,
light footsteps, thin drizzle,
water that is air, air that is time,
the day is still leaving,
the night has yet to arrive,
figurations of mist
at the turn of the corner,
figurations of time
at the bend in this pause,
listen to me as one listens to the rain,
without listening, hear what I say
with eyes open inward, asleep
with all five senses awake,
it’s raining, light footsteps, a murmur of syllables,
air and water, words with no weight:
what we are and are,
the days and years, this moment,
weightless time and heavy sorrow,
listen to me as one listens to the rain,
wet asphalt is shining,
steam rises and walks away,
night unfolds and looks at me,
you are you and your body of steam,
you and your face of night,
you and your hair, unhurried lightning,
you cross the street and enter my forehead,
footsteps of water across my eyes,
listen to me as one listens to the rain,
the asphalt’s shining, you cross the street,
it is the mist, wandering in the night,
it is the night, asleep in your bed,
it is the surge of waves in your breath,
your fingers of water dampen my forehead,
your fingers of flame burn my eyes,
your fingers of air open eyelids of time,
a spring of visions and resurrections,
listen to me as one listens to the rain,
the years go by, the moments return,
do you hear the footsteps in the next room?
not here, not there: you hear them
in another time that is now,
listen to the footsteps of time,
inventor of places with no weight, nowhere,
listen to the rain running over the terrace,
the night is now more night in the grove,
lightning has nestled among the leaves,
a restless garden adrift-go in,
your shadow covers this page.




“Waiting in the Rain” by Colin Hay

“Waiting for My Life” by Linda Pastan

I waited for my life to start
for years, standing at bus stops
looking into the curved distance
thinking each bus was the wrong bus;
or lost in books where I would travel
without luggage from one page
to another; where the only breeze
was the rustle of pages turning,
and lives rose and set
in the violent colors of suns.

Sometimes my life coughed and coughed:
a stalled car about to catch,
and I would hold someone in my arms,
though it was always someone else I wanted.
Or I would board any bus, jostled
by thighs and elbows that knew
where they were going; collecting scraps
of talk, setting them down like birdsong
in my notebook, where someday I would go
prospecting for my life.

Linda Pastan, Waiting for My Life

“Waiting For My Real Life to Begin” by Colin Hay