Michael Lauchlan

Memory Ode

History rounds off skeletons to zero.



Boy returning from a field striped
in blood from a blow to the chin

glad to have played     mad to launch

into air for a ball–if I call more
gently than I call our skittish stray

as she scampers yard to yard

wondering at her brief freedom
in new snow     can I

lure you back from oblivion

In that ashen town
I only know what got

torn down and who moved out

When King was not yet dead
was all already falling forward

like a mover hauling boxes

to a van and missing a step
The dog slinks back

whiskers bright with frost

to walk beside us over snow
Skittish though you are     answer

with your fragmentary speech

I won’t ask how your father
navigated between wars     how

your life turned into the one

I’ll lead for a while longer
Only how time creeps      and why

the elements have flown apart

An earth almost incontinent
to bury us      shifts    Water rises

inexorable as droughts that bake us

Air carries a hint of sulphur
Only fire remains faithful–fuel

and breath and spark and dawn



I Am Not One of Those

who hates arriving early.
I’ll let coffee cool,
let the heat of the mug
warm my hands. I can wait
without filling the air with noise.
At the river of sound a monk
dips his ladle, pulls out a chime
and prays. No monk, I pray
poorly, stomach growling
at a table on an empty sidewalk
while a song arranges itself
from car horns and sirens.
A mourning dove stops me
with a question and I answer
with a few of my own.
Now that my friend is gone,
who will remember what
made him laugh? Why does
laughter die out so soon?
Why do fools fall into power?
And why does cruelty
come naturally to us?
On a bank, a monk dreams
above the water’s lisp.



Michael Lauchlan has contributed to many publications, including New England Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, The North American Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Sugar House Review, Louisville Review, Poet Lore, Southern Poetry Review, and Poetry Ireland. His most recent collection is Trumbull Ave., from WSU Press (2015).


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