Gerald Yelle

Afternoon in Afterlife

And I know before waking each wave of tenderness the baby
gives access to, paths
                                     like velvet on evening’s adolescence,
a town like Rising Sun limning the West.

And here a hearth in the glow of a restful interior.
                                      And here a soft place for landing.

I cradle my cargo, my baby, so big in my arms
I can’t see my wingtips. It’s the same with taking off:

Never anything solid to push away from and still you glide.
I leap from the rafters in the market
in mid-afternoon and business
                                      is so brisk nobody notices
when I lean and let go.
It’s their new specialty garners attention:

a thin bundle bound at one end,
                                      a morbid shock of human hair coyly
christened the fashion fetch.
More fetish than fashion, I might add, speaking as one
who owns many.

I only wear a T-shirt, a pair of shorts ready to hand
in case someone tries to stop me.
                        One cop scratching parking tickets won’t:
and the shock dangling from his rearview
corroborates my confidence.
                                      Like the day’s final

run, full of land-grab, full of fishing holes and couples,
full of picnic ground and fairground,
          hairless head of the cowpoke I’ve been dogging,
all shank legs and big charisma.
          Small tin soldier from where I sit.

Everything I want I assimilate: every up-
braid, every sigh, each heavy-lidded languish of chicanery.
No qualms invoking pity to cadge tobacco,
          stroll my baby, break my will.

No Different Than Crows

Birds are like weather: Once gone,
it's hard to tell where they were.
One cardinal tripped the wire and
so it was recorded, though none of
this is verifiable. Like a physical
attentiveness clotted by veins, this
attempt to limber the neck, this
strain after the mouthful running
from the fountain. Crows’ diet
leaves nothing to boast of—though
it keeps feathers well-oiled and
shiny. They might charcoal their
beaks or pick the webs off their
wings. Critics say they’re clumsy:
they ought to peel back the onion.
What grace they manage they
abandon as soon as they come to
the table where they encounter their
betters, opposable thumbs, live
from their mothers and cold. Their
very breath deprives others of
their livelihood. Crows know this
and suffer, preferring whirligigs,
canaries, the Fourth of July white
noise whistling of the troops.

about the author


13.1 (Fall 2008)   The 2River View