Tuesday, March 22, 2011


What Should We Do?
Gratefully, I acknowledged that my doubts had kept me from going all aswim in
contentment over such givenness as prevailed everywhere one turned.

Since everything had gotten so much worse,
I tried to take in at least some one thing
to make out how we came to where we were,
with the result that, on my walk that morning,
which I take solemnly every day, over toward the creek
that rises beyond the highway then disappears
into the forest behind us, to reemerge
two or three blocks away in tiny cataracts
beside a yellow house with a gazebo,
I resourcefully recollected that the French
garbage can sounds like a word for a tiny
blue iris a couple might name their daughter after,
so that when I tried to articulate that moment
in my semiyearly letter to my friend Marcel,
who lives near Montbourbier in the Dordogne,
with its otherworldly river and black cliffside,
I could not imagine how I would convey
with any force in his own vivacious tongue
that we had tumbled into the garbage can of history—
nous sommes tombés dans la poubelle de l'histoire
simply would not do—so I wrote instead
how my wife and I welcomed the news that our plan
to come over to search for leases with options to buy
would coincide with the birth of a new grandchild
who might look back on these as times of triumph,
with or without tumbrels rumbling in order to have it.

By michael heffernan

Monday, March 14, 2011


Staff Sgt. Metz

Metz is alive for now, standing in line
at the airport Starbucks in his camo gear
and buzz cut, his beautiful new
camel-colored suede boots. His hands
are thick-veined. The good blood
still flows through, given an extra surge
when he slurps his latte, a fleck of foam
caught on his bottom lip.

I can see into the canal in his right ear,
a narrow darkness spiraling deep inside his head
toward the place of dreaming and fractions,
ponds of quiet thought.

In the sixties my brother left for Vietnam,
a war no one understood, and I hated him for it.
When my boyfriend was drafted I made a vow
to write a letter every day, and then broke it.
I was a girl torn between love and the idea of love.
I burned their letters in the metal trash bin
behind the broken fence. It was the summer of love
and I wore nothing under my cotton vest,
my Mexican skirt.

I see Metz later, outside baggage claim,
hunched over a cigarette, mumbling
into his cell phone. He's more real to me now
than my brother was to me then, his big eyes
darting from car to car as they pass.
I watch him breathe into his hands.

I don't believe in anything anymore:
god, country, money or love.
All that matters to me now
is his life, the body so perfectly made,
mysterious in its workings, its oiled
and moving parts, the whole of him
standing up and raising one arm
to hail a bus, his legs pulling him forward,
all muscle and sinew and living gristle,
the countless bones of his foot trapped in his boot,
stepping off the red curb.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011


When I'm like zig zagging among stuff
and I can't find things in which pile
where/ on the desk, in the kitchen,
bed table/ car/ some place/
the work station above is what I yearn
for, with lots of drawers and com-
partments for different sized papers,
notebooks, postcards and photos,
binders, flashdrives whatever,
this man imagined it/a data-managing
collecting searching device/container
personal? cultural? whatever, could such
a desk? workstation? help me
be more organized, no doubt, my
system now is broken file cabinets
and canvas bags, and thank goodness
for the canvas bag, the various colors,
designs and causes enable my monkey mind
to recall oh yes, that's the paperwork
for blah/blah But I dilly dally now.