Somebody leans back and the sofa’s weathered
fabric let’s out a stale breath of cigarette smoke
as the man passing by on the sidewalk catches
wind of it through the cracked window and
thinks of the basement of his grandma’s house,
the whole house, moving through room by room,
remembering it all in a yellow hue, how memory
sepias, bringing contrast to various shapes:
a touch-lamp on the nightstand beside a worn
leather chair, amber spilling and then fading into dawn,
and a book telling its story, about how for so long
a woman lived alone, until one day her late love Jill
moved in and nothing seemed to change, then
within a year they were gone, moved south,—
but the man continues: recalls the pool table with
ashtrays beside each corner pocket, the green felt
under his hand, an Elvis poster next to the window
where outside countless horizons flare up and
everything with wings has its own vanishing point.
COYOTES ON BARE KNEE HILL
It comes to this: the meadowlark’s vocal chords
split, the power
lines vibrating and under their hum a roadrunner
acknowledges its name and acts on it.
I’m speaking into a tape recorder
during a long drive
west, more than 2000 miles from Michigan
to Montana, murders of crow, countless
cattle, dozens of horses whose tails, like
frayed rope, lash the thousands of flies and
the thousands more I will not see.
I keep track of my life in these blurry days
by counting, it’s the illusion
of order that keeps chaos at bay.
What I’m looking for is the plural to be
singular. Like the coyote
on Bare Knee Hill, their clan bark
coming from a shared center
reaching back toward the valley.
I’m followed by dreams
and rain clouds above those dreams.
After a few days the ragged
sky rings out and
I stitch my sight along the uneven
seam and feel the past flatten.
I find myself at the hem.
So, it comes to this—
Z.G. Tomaszewski was born in 1989 in Grand Rapids, Michigan where he works maintenance at the Masonic Temple, is co-director of Lamp Light Musical Festival, and a founding member of Great Lakes Commonwealth of Letters. His debut book, All Things Dusk, was selected by Li-Young Lee as the International Poetry Prize winner and published by Hong Kong University Press in December 2015. His chapbook Mineral Whisper, composed while living in Ireland, was published by Finishing Line Press in February 2017. These days he can be found in the wake of a canoe, among the sculpting tones of a dusky walk, watching his love pick flowers, or considering how a cat enters the room through steam let off a cup of tea.