I will walk to Station Square
Though I won’t take the train
Or check out new cocktails at the bar.
I won’t worry about departures or arrivals,
Weather delays or locked waiting rooms.
I haven’t looked at a schedule for weeks.
Tickets crumple in my pocket.
The trackside trees are leafing out without me.
The funny man who pees all the time
Is no longer a comfort station customer.
The pushy lady who grabs the first seat
Must now roll easily from kitchen chair to couch,
We gaze at screens, not out the windows
Of the empty trains passing by without us
Through a region frozen in emergency,
Of seething hospitals and blinded shops.
Trains clack over the heads of parents juggling children
And accounts unaided and without success:
Too much out of reach; too much passed them by;
Too many cash-earners gone.
Their losses will pull the spikes from all our rails,
Knock the train from the trestle,
And there will be nothing to wait for
Coming round the bend.
I turn back down the silent streets
And walk home from Station Square.
“Station Square” was published by North of Oxford in May 2020
One of my professor friends posted a screenshot of his seminar,
the one he conducts for good students at a good school.
I can see you there, center row, third from left.
My friend is in the little box next to you.
The famous guest author is the lower right corner.
Wish I could have been on that game show.
If you’re here it means you made it,
that you’re not in permanent couch-surfing mode,
that you stopped drinking after those black outs,
that you don’t have a glove compartment rattling
with glass pipes and lighters,
that you kept a waitress job long enough to pay
a bit of rent and what it takes to join
this array of the bright and the bored.
So many of these students have the same white bookshelves
every influencer sits before these days.
Would they have the same books I read to you,
the ones you threw across the room
when the letters wouldn’t stop dancing,
and that you had to read all over again the next year?
Would the sleeves of that hoody cover your tracks?
This is what I always hoped for you:
to know that not every brick building is a courthouse, or a jail;
not every group is a gang.
Even in this checkerboard you can almost read these lives—
the texts firing off off-line to the BFFs,
the renegotiations with OK, Boomer over
the unexpected homecoming.
You’ve been there, too.
If only you could have learned that not every grown man wants
something from you that takes the light out of your eyes,
the light I see in theirs, box by box,
the light I would see in your eyes
if only they would open in time.
“Leave Meeting” was published by North of Oxford in January, 2021, and in The Strategic Poet, compiled and edited by Diane Lockward, Terrapin Press, in October, 2021.
His poems have appeared in American Journal of Poetry, Buddhist Poetry Review, Cagibi, Hey, I’m Alive, Impossible Archive, Nine Cloud Journal, North of Oxford, Pensive Journal, Poets Wear Prada’s The Rainbow Project (nominated for Best of the Net), and World Literature Today. His work is included in The Strategic Poet by Diane Lockward, Brownstone Poets 2020, and in the anthology, I Want to be Loved by You: Poems on Marilyn Monroe. He holds an MFA in Dramatic Writing from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. He is a native of Nebraska and lives in Forest Hills, Queens with his husband.