“Walking Home”

I wrote this poem after I walked home from dropping my car off at the garage for body work. I’d driven along Washington Street in Dedham, Massachusetts,  countless times, but had never seen it on foot, had never noticed so many things.
The poem was published today in Califragile.

9417 Maryland State Flower framed

MD State Flower
by Jeff Blum

Walking Home

Driving, we see nothing, eyes always on the road,
We’re on the lookout for red lights, cars that veer into our lane.
We miss: Cigarette butts mounded near a sewer cover,
houses needing paint or new shingles, fronted by
drought-proof gardens of cosmos and black-eyed Susan,
coneflowers, sedum, wood asters a yard tall.
A turquoise flip-flop upside down in the gutter,
lambs’ quarters that spring from cracks on the overpass.
A wooden table and chairs in a sunken sideyard,
a snow thrower against the chain link fence,
brown crabgrass plumes packed with seeds.
Cars on the highway flying by under a new bridge of
bright white concrete, high chainlink fence to warn off suicides.
Abandoned gas station masked by ailanthus, blackthorn, scrub oak.
Behind them, a twenty-foot boat looms, shrink-wrapped in white plastic.
Old auto repair shop, windows broken, black paint faded to grey,
grass pushing up through concrete. Uninvited plants—
nothing stops them. Behind the wheel, we miss all this.

Two of my new poems published today in “Califragile” online literary magazine

Skin and Bones

Signs of age mount in a crescendo—
colonies of skin tags behind the knees,
rough to the touch, subdued by Vaseline,
Centime-sized liver spots, identical to my mother’s
when she reached this age, forty years ago, Watergate days.
The nasolabial folds are more pronounced, engraved.
Small puffs have risen up under the eyes.
The fingers stiffened, two swollen at the midjoint
No point in dwelling on it—better to swallow naproxyn
two at a time, smear on arnica or diclofenac,
keep spinal fluid moving with cat and cow pose,
never stop—except to sleep, dream of youth’s body,
strong hands on the piano, on bicycle gears, or
fingers meeting palm in a tight, clenched fist.

 

Near Christmas at Newbury Court

From the fourth floor, through French doors’ dusty blinds
you can see black trees etched against fading blue-gray sky,
sky punctuated by a strip of pink near the horizon.
Then night sweeps in, not like summer
when the sun takes its time, hugging the world’s edge,
leaking its last light onto the bay.
On the sofa the old woman snores, jolts awake
says it must be time for supper. I help her to her walker,
I’m her balance because hers is gone.
I shuffle with her to the elevator,
shuffle with her down the windowless hall.
The smell of bland food hangs in the air.

 

 

Lynne Viti teaches in the Writing Program at Wellesley College. Her first chapbook, Baltimore Girls, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2017. Her second chapbook, The Glamorganshire Bible, will be released in early 2018. Her writing has appeared most recently in I Come From the World, The Thing Itself, Stillwater Review, Bear Review, In-Flight Magazine, Tin Lunchbox, Lost Sparrow, and South Florida Poetry Journal. She was awarded Honorable Mentions in the 2015 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Competition and the 2017 Concrete Wolf Louis Chapbook competition, and was named a finalist in the 2016 Grey Borders Wanted Works Poetry Chapbook Contest. She blogs at stillinschool.wordpress.com.

Originally published online on September 16, 2017, in the September 2017 issue of Califragile.