The 2River View 16.1 (Fall 2011)

Brent Pallas

Out on the Balcony

Nutty. It's a spring night in the middle of February.
Winter's hound is locked up as jonquils spike

near the bushes. An odd bliss that looks like litter.
I tell him, it's crazy weather tonight, and notice

a rip in his sleeve. He's homeless.
And I'm a volunteer here at the shelter

we'll both leave in the morning. It's an old
story he rakes up: with custom suits

and girls on every arm of it. And I don't believe
much of it, but so what. He's clean now,

but hanging at the noose end of things.
Right there in that tree, he says pointing,

there's nothing left but a sister in Jersey.
He doesn't hear the intoxicating rush

of warmth tonight as he coughs and lights
another cigarette. Its calm ether filling him

like a sigh as coatless blondes go by
licking ice cream, their bare arms so white

and promising as if its July's stars out there
beaming through those leafless branches.

The Gift

You know when there's something wrong.
Branches down in the half light

like a storm dripping from the eaves.
That morning the cat wasn't there.

And you searched until you found something
barely cat. Thinking she had dragged herself

beneath that chair after meeting a bobcat
out back in the woods, leaving her

with one ear. And you carried her for weeks
from room to room until her weariness edged back

into stealth. Because all along the vet said, sure,
and sure enough she drifted out back again

into those woods after leaving
the still rag of a chipmunk on your bed.

Brent Pallas has been in New England Review, Poetry, and The Southern Review. In 2007 and 2011, he was a finalist for the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry given by Nimrod International Journal. contact