Friday, November 24, 2006

Two Poems: Kyle Torke


You wake one morning, the snow pressed atop the iris,
Their swollen heads bent in prayer,
And realize you’ve trespassed in joy, and the muscular pleasure
Will soon arrive to pluck your collar,
Drag you across the street, and deposit you with the other waste
In a canal whose ice is mushy
And provides no solid footing; your shoes fill with water.

If you make it back to your little room,
Regret will be waiting, leaned against the wall in a shadow,
A pistol across his lap, smoking,
And he will say, “You should have gathered the harvest
When the mice were resting,”
And you’ll wince and know all four legs will touch the floor.
Your memory is the bullet.

The next winter, your wound heals and you stretch to break an icicle,
But loneliness calls from an alleyway
Where a policeman beats an addict, the needles spread around them
Like casings from a fire-fight, and you
Choose not to snap, the finger of light a harbinger, a tiny connection
To a spinning planet that bucks and whimpers
And tries to throw you; the alley stretches before you like a dirty river.

You wake in the morning with a needle
In your arm and the iris announcing a thaw, small drips of water like blood
Filling your socks, and joy blocking the light
At the end of the cardboard box, each flower in a pot, and the sun streaking
Through small holes, incisions teeth might make,
And she says, “I wish the trees with deeper roots would tap, tap, tap
And dance with me”; and you can only smile.

* * * * *


A fog has settled on your garden,
The tumultuous tomatoes unevenly
Spaced like beating hearts keeping
Many souls alive, and your memory
Is a pasture the builder scraped
Two weeks ago, layered concrete
Around rebar and smoothed
The walkways that will, eventually,
Lead somewhere; already, before
The saplings settle in place, before
The flower beds sprout ordered life,
One row of xenias, two of marigolds,
On the edges of the white stone
And between the bricks where bits
Of sand blew (from the neighboring
Fields where the cows low and stare),
The green tendril of volunteer clover
Thinks about exploding purple
And attracting bees, about reaching
Toward the light, waiting for rain,
And spreading kin into a long, sweet
Swath of purple and green lovely
As fresh turned soil and equally full
Of the life the tilled earth will bring.

~ Kyle Torke teaches writing and literature courses at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. Gorsky Press released his first full-length collection of poems, Archeology of Bones, in June 2001. He has poems in Perigee, Wild Goose Review, Tar Wolf Review, and poems forthcoming in Karamu. A group of five poems was a finalist in the New Letters Poetry Competition.

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