Poem of the Week: October 7th, 2015

Steve Langan is the author of Freezing, Notes on Exile and Other Poems, and Meet Me at the Happy Bar. He lives in Omaha and on Cliff Island, Maine, and he teaches in the University of Nebraska MFA program. His poem, “So This Is Where It All Began,” was first featured in Volume 1, Issue 1 of burntdistrict.

By Steve Langan

and this is where the magic happens
and here’s the shitty nine to five grandpa told us about,
and this is the little wand he sets down on the glass
counter when he says, right after the procedure, ta-da,

and these are the headphones I wore running
all those miles,
and these are the many of the mile markers,
some shot through with many shots
          or a single bullet,
I ran by, mouthing this or that song,
trying hard to forget or remember,

and this is the path from the big house to the little house
          where you’re staying tonight,
and here is the flashlight, indispensable at night,
I swear, even if the moon’s full,
and especially if my uncle, and it’s no secret,
breaks out the bourbon,

and this is the photo of us when we were thin,
twenty eight years old in Fayetteville,

and this is the chart of the bay, and this is how far
we traveled today and our route,
and this is the best way to respond
          when they ask, What are you doing these days?,

and this is the book on dreams,
not to be confused with the book on mysticism
          or allegory,
and this is what happened to the book our mothers
told us not to read
I saw you once holding in your tiny hands,

this is me looking at you in love
and this is me looking at you out of love
and these are the names you called me when we were in love
and these are some of the names you called me when we
          were no longer in love,

I was so sorry when her child died
and I could not put into words my sorrow,
and I was so happy when he said,
driving down Route One,
          I think she is my soul mate,
and I could not put into words my happiness,

and this is the crime I committed in 1982,
the one I did not tell anyone about until 1996,
when I sat with my sponsor at the diner
after the meeting and told him
all my sins, and he said
          They aren’t sins let’s use other terminology.

Around the corner is a nice café they serve
a great seafood salad, a wonderful pasta,
very good sandwiches, though I suggest you
avoid the soup, it’s usually watery.

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