Tuesday, August 28, 2012

By the Same Author

James Longenbach (2012)

Today, no matter if it rains,
It's time to follow the path into the forest.

The same people will be walking the same dogs,
Or if not the same dogs, dogs that behave in similar fashions,
Some barking, some standing aloof.
The owners carry plastic bags.

But this is the forest, they complain, we must do as we like.
We must let the dogs run free,
We must follow their example,
The way we did when we were young.

Back then we slept, watched TV—
We were the dogs.
By the time the screen door slammed, we were gone.

Nobody really talks like that in the forest.
They're proud of their dogs,
Proud especially of the ones who never bark.
They're upset about the Norway maple, it's everywhere,
Crowding out the hickories and oaks.

Did you know it takes a million seeds to make one tree?
Your chances of surviving in the forest,
Of replicating yourself, are slim.

Today, the smaller dogs are wearing raincoats,
The bigger ones are stiffing it out.
They're tense, preoccupied,
Running in circles,
Getting tangled in the leash—

It's hard remaining human in the forest.
To move the limbs of the body,
To speak intelligible words,
These things promise change.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Opus Posthumous

James Longenbach (2012)

When I painted, everybody saw.

When I played piano, everybody heard.

I ate your raspberries.

The sign no trespassing applied to me.

Now, the hemlocks have grown higher than the house.

There's moss on my stoop, a little mildew

In the shower but you've never seen my shower.

I can undress by the window,

I can sleep in the barn.

The sky, which is cloudy,

Suits the earth to which it belongs.