Late Afternoon

 by Robert Bové (Nov. 2006)
(These four poems are from Actual Phantoms, a ms. I am shopping.  Go here for more.)




Pretty Promenade, as they say,

crowd posed—as if for me.

So I’ve thought—so have you.

So I’ve come, so have you…


… if only to snap a photo—


a quarter on the meter.


Weddings take longer.

It all has to be just so.

Sometimes, I ask, Where I have I seen these

people before?

And they I remember, all wedding parties

look the same from outside

against that backdrop—

they’ve been in there, to the same salon—

and there it is, all of it, gilded, under sun.

And they’re kissing.  And those golden glints

fresh on each wedding finger…


They’re here for the lightness—

as well as the light—


they’ll need it.


Ah, me, she said, leafing through her wedding album

slowly resting her left hand on a page,

six four-by-six panoramas, Ah, me, how

young we were.


And he said?


Nothing—she sat alone on a divan in Canarsie,

her cats crying for dinner.


These joggers, something else—

what do they see?


Obstacles—and themselves

leaping over wedding parties

and slow walkers, the occasional

codge with walker.  And themselves

makng the turn at the far end.


Visualizing helps?

And Walk-Mans.  And working

on a convincing grimace and growl—

judging every body.


This one’s to fat,


that one’s not really reading the paper… 


You get the picture…


But if everybody was running?


A marathon of judgment…


Down to…


the soles of their feet.

Pleated Poem



And you are?


Here to take in the sun.


And the air?


This is Brooklyn


And the air?


The air is noticeable…


But the breeze distracts…


That hair, that skirt…


And there is sun…


Always, the sun…


But for the clouds…


On a midwinter’s day…


So, let’s remember…


It’s early May…


That hair…


That skirt…


Caught, why not…


In some breeze.




I’ve often wondered…


Haven’t we all?


About the BQE.


Like I said…


Like that guy I once met in the Port Authority…


Bus Terminal bar…


It was jammed, everyone stuck…


A semi overturned on Turnpike…


Just past where the tunnel traffic enters.


What a mess.


Weren’t we?  Three hours, standing room only,

we just three our money at the bartenders…


The girl with just enough belly…


To go with those…




Black eyes.  No.  She was off that night.

But there was this natty drunk on the stool next to mine

who’d been commuting 40 years Midtown to Paramus

and he says, reaching under his jacket,

"I once told you to shoot me if I’m still doing this when I’m 60"—

And hands me a gun.




I just about threw it to the nearest bartender.


What did he say?


The bartender?  He gave it back to the guy.


I think I see what you mean…


About what?  I’m not done, yet…


About the BQE.




We Don’t Get the Dead



We don’t get the dead here much.


The dead aren’t men.


Neither are ghosts.


Nor magpies.


And dead days absently dropped

from Kronos’ pockets…


…loss scribbled


large across the stars…


…gardens abandoned…


…to caltrop and thistle…


…and spineless sophists explaining weeds…


…skies black with starling, with grackle…


…with lawyers enough to sue sun and moon.



A gourmet army teaches…


…dung pies, ash crepes…


…teaches vacuum…


…of Pantheon, tablets of Babel


…how to stoke Hannibal’s oven…


…to magpies and mockingbirds…




…on fence.


The dead go to Green-Wood…


…to take in the view.


Only the dead…


…don’t do time.


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If you have enjoyed these poems and want to read more poetry by Robert Bové click here.

Robert Bové contributes regularly to The Iconoclast, our Community Blog. Click here to see all his contributions, on which comments are welcome.

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