:: Article

Six Poems

By Tom Andes.

Arcade

I’m going to kill myself and

Where were you
on the eighteenth of December
1998?

Whether it’s going to be rain, ice or snowy.

You don’t want anything on it?

In the video game it’s always winter
and you shoot elk, moose, grizzly and black bear, white tail deer.

Carnival music plays.

A voice says, “Welcome to Extreme Hunting.”

Seismic activity!
Please mark your calendars.

 

Lights of Tulsa

You see it faintly glimmering
beneath the affordable bail bonds sign,
something you only wish
you’d held onto longer.

Now all you’ve got’s this Cadillac Seville;
you’re halfway to Okmulgee,
this unnecessary travail.

What was it that billboard told you?
Go on, she said. Rub it in.

1000 traffic cones light the way to your heart.

Caution.
Reduce
speed
ahead.

It glitters in your eyes,
in your mouth,
in your genitals,
in your proximate heart.

 

Four Sonnets
West Sussex, August 6 – 19, 2010

I.

I think it must be some strange kind of love
that pulls me back to see you all again,
that makes me feel I’ve not gone far enough
after however many years it’s been.
The dreary houses rolling past remind me
of how I came to hate this countryside;
I never seemed to leave for that much time,
until of course I left for a decade.
I wonder if it’s not a similar
kind of love carries my letters to you—
virtual letters, yes, of course they are—
as if the same love animates the world, too.
I’m less impressed now than I was back then;
I can’t decide; I come and go again.

 

II.

The sky looks shitty, looming miserably
over staid brown brick and clay chimney tiles;
uniform houses stacked identically,
and left to collect the rain like dung in piles.
Beneath the low gray mist, sodden fields stink;
they look as though they must smell sulfurous;
among the trees, an outhouse stands forgotten,
graffitied. “No, it doesn’t bother us.”
Here and there some purple heather blooms;
it too seems beaten by this tepid rain.
A jogger wearing hot pink sweats caroms
around the corner, past the shop, the train.
At 35, you light a cigarette
and turn away, glancing at your ticket.

 

III.

I don’t think I’m impossible to love;
most likely I’m just very difficult;
back then I tried to hold myself above
those who find it harder to love than fuck.
I’d like to spend my whole life on a train
and watch the other trains go rolling past,
imagining the faces in the rain
staring back through windows as they pass.
Against a field of blue the crane revolves,
a concrete pylon dangling from a hook;
in empty doorways plastic sheeting saws
wildly at the air, fingers crooked.
O let me pass before you carrying flowers;
I wait outside your gate, by the bower.

 

IV. (for PHJ)

Whatever I’ve forgotten, I don’t need.
“Quietly dying,” you said. The couple’d come
to buy a puppy. The yard going to seed.
A gesture takes it in, your childhood home.
You never ranged too far from Bognor Regis.
“From Barnham, back to Yapton, back to Barnham,
and back to Yapton again,” you said. “And there’s
the house I lived with Mary, Lucy’s mum.”
The scrap yard’s office seems a clubhouse now;
books tumble from the shelves; the cot sleeps one.
Photographs strewn as if after a row.
The forge. The kiln. The old Alsatian. Gone.
Burn it,” you say, smiling wickedly.
“Send them a note. Burn it. Set yourself free.”

 

tom-andes
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tom Andes was born and raised in New Hampshire and has since lived in the UK, Southern Oklahoma, New Orleans, San Francisco, Fayetteville, Arkansas; Paris, France; and Oakland, California. His fiction has appeared in News from the Republic of Letters, Arkansas Literary Forum, and Apalachee Review, among other publications; his criticism has appeared in the Rumpus. A chapbook, Life Before the Storm and Other Stories, appeared from Cannibal Books in 2010. The South Carolina Review will publish his interview of Thomas E. Kennedy later this year.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Saturday, April 9th, 2011.