Reading Poetry at the Greyhound Station
And here I am in the station,
in this ripened summer
becoming something other
than fall. With Whitman,
O’Hara, WCW, Pound,
in my hands. There’s something
about men, the wretched musk of age.
A sense they’re waiting; always waiting
in lines and below flags, reading
commandments and repeating the words
to themselves. For they have to
move on, let the soft ache continue.
But don’t they notice moments
transformed: a sip from the water
fountain or a wasted quarter
on the slippery claw
of Prize Time. I want to buckle
the anthology into the seat
and let it live in Sarasota,
reading almanacs on the beach.
I can remain in the station,
writing about what the men say:
the money they ask me for,
just to get home.
There’s this girl at Starbucks who changed her name
to a Sanskrit word. I bug her for hours to tell me what
Yoni means. After her shift she takes me back to her
apartment. We listen to Minus the Bear and make
popcorn in a steel pan and season it with chili powder
and volcanic salt. You can taste Hawaii, she says.
I think she’s hitting on me, but she passes me a book
and tells me to read a Robert Hass poem—the one
about his mother. I study the words, then read the first
stanza aloud. She rises from the sofa and heads to the
record player. I keep reading to her, even when she grabs
my hand and gets me to dance. When the book drops to
the floor, she says vagina and asks me if I want a
glass of milk.
MARCH 2021 Christopher Linforth MONK