Apr/May 2014 Poetry

Two Poems

by Jamie Bruno

Image courtesy of the British Library Photostream

Image courtesy of the British Library Photostream


We put grass seed down two months ago.
Sun wracked the land.
Crows ate the seed.
Storms washed seed and soil into one stagnant pool.
Dogs cautiously lapped drowned kernels.
Barbed leaves and woody stalks grew from cracked earth.
Airborne mystery grasses covered our yard.
Let the weeds come first, my father told me.
They firm up the ground.

A gentle rain broke the drought one evening.
Our dreams were perfumed with petrichor.
Strains of grass contended with one another.
Arrogant mock trees grew two feet overnight.
Crabbed poisonous berries appeared on the ground.
My father walked the land like a sheriff.
This place is a circus, he told me.
Go buy some Weed 'N Feed.

We distributed nitrogen and pesticide two weeks ago.
We pulled the largest weeds by their roots.
Dry evenings I carefully arced water on soil.
A prism appeared in the sky.
Kentucky blue tentatively took hold of the land.
My father paced his nascent carpet and was pleased.
Remember this day when you're grown, he said.
Only a good man can have a good lawn.


And the Yankees Lose

A woman in her nineties addresses the audience.

When Jerry got T-boned by that semi
In the middle of nowhere in Georgia,
They didn't notify me next of kin
Till I had drifted off with the lights on
And Carson had turned into Letterman.

That Pee-Wee Herman leered creepy on mute
To Dave's uncomprehending amusement
While the patrolman drawled over the phone
How my son hadn't buckled his seat belt,
So it might just be best for everyone
If they cremated him before transport.

And what do you know?
                                  His brother-in-law
Had the facilities to do the job.

And Dwayne was just as reputable, more
Even, than firms that charged egregious fees.

I still carry those first weeks in my bones:
The immediate crisis atmosphere,
Long close hours, letting the shower run
Through forty gallons of acupuncture
On my tetchy back and sciatica,
Such shocked and endearing condolences
I had never suspected of truckers
And the repeated hallucination
At every goddamned unguarded moment
Of Jerry's irreplaceable presence.

Our little boy was born a Yankees fan,
Swaddled with the logo crocheted by hand
Through restless uncomfortable nesting nights
And glued to the tube deep in the evening
For postseason games before he could speak.

My husband's heart gave out in a deer stand
While I still worked at the shoe factory.

At Jerry's regrettable insistence,
We buried him with his Lou Gehrig card.

That could have paid for two years of college.

Poor soul...

After everything, while I could still drive
I brought a blanket and a radio
Out to the family plot to listen
To Rizzuto and Murcer call the game,
My living room this kinetic vista
Overflown by migratory wildfowl.

Years, that was.
                    And it's strange how nostalgic
You can feel for a ritual of grief,
Placing dear weathered photos on the grass
With Jerry's favorite cap, my Johnny's scarf,
Screaming at imaginary loved ones
When Blowers ruined that tense no-hitter...

I haven't been to see them in ages.

Once you stop working, the world picks up speed
In a routine of identical days
Punctuated by paperwork and news
Of a culture that grows ever stranger
Till one night, finished with courtroom drama
And exhausted by jokes of dead sitcoms,
You pause on an episode of Nova
Where a bass voiceover blandly rambles
About the heat death of the universe
Long after everyone you know is gone.


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