CAMBRIDGE, MASS., 1980
Where do we live but days?
I thought of the strange things people say, a boy singing
Calendar, Calendar Day! as if we woke to moments
That had no place on the page, so loud I remember
This late decade, the kid lugging till then
Unheralded Heralds, or were they Globes
The length of the train, calling to everyone,
Now especially to me, the doors gumming shut
Like a toothless mouth, trading his smudged stack
For change, his fingers blotter-stained,
The weekly arts section tucked inside
The articles of war, leavening the front page,
Mugabe riding Nkomo in those days,
The lights blinking off, then blinding us again,
The kid urging us to act quick, as if we risked
The pivot of our planet, Woden’s Day, Thunor’s,
Venus budding profanely in Vendredi, Tiw’s Day,
God of law and war… I spread the insert
Across my knees, Spider John Koerner crooning
At the Plough and Stars, the Blacksmith House
Waxing Piercy’s female moon, Bly on a dulcimer,
His tone-deaf God-awful voice broken to the day
No I am made. Then the ripped umbilical cord,
The saturnine drift of Kubrick’s lost astronauts,
The train rocking us back, a star for each lulled hour,
The contradance of each clipped day
That spins so fast you will fall without the fixed
Eye of a partner nailing down your glance.
This boy, this town crier, calling from some place
Cracks time, cracks space. If you listen,
This is his offer… He is only asking for a quarter.
Stephen Haven directs the Lesley University MFA Program in Creative Writing and is the author of The Last Sacred Place in North America, selected by T.R. Hummer as winner of the New American Prize. He has published two previous collections of poetry, Dust and Bread, for which he was named 2009 Ohio Poet of the Year, and The Long Silence of the Mohawk Carpet Smokestacks.