Saturday, September 20, 2008

There is no standing still

By Ted Burke

I wanted to remark upon the two Bob Dylan poems that are in the new issue of the New Yorker, but the muse intervened and I wound up instead writing this poem.--tb

There is no standing still

I pulled the car to the side
half way across the bridge

just to look at the grey water
below being christened with wakes

of barges hauling the remains of
the month we've lost to a port

where they can still drop anchor
and all else besides.

You don't drive, you said,
lighting a cigarette I saw from the corner of my eye,

long white gloves, a gold plated butane,
This isn't your car nor the city

that sustains your center when verbs
get nervous and adjectives lose their spine

You talk a lot for a memory,
I say, feeling the wind from the open Pacific

carry the diesel fumes between state lines
and the laws of gravity we wear

on our belts like shorts
too tight in the waist,

I will park and gaze anywhere
I have a mind to, yes, this world

belongs to the public that sees me
coming up for air from subway staircases,

every town I walk into or drive out of
is a hometown that writes our names

under the signs
that tells us population numbers.

But you are gone, the car has vanished,
the bridge leads me to the same houses

and hallways,

the earth just spins
and there is no standing still.