Chicago Union Station

Rustin Larson

You see it’s not for me, 

But you look like a father. This is so

Embarrassing. I am a responsible mother,

I have only six dollars some kind person

Gave me, and I need twenty.

Haven’t you ever been lost with no money? 

No one believing? The cops not believing you?

The whole world thinking this is a scam,

Saying, “That is no mother, that is no baby sleeping

Soundly, those aren’t tears, but rain that falls

On us all, as lucky people take a ride to the top

Of the Willis Tower and enjoy the view.”

I don’t want money in my hand, only dollars

To fly around me like birds, like angel’s wings.

I’d rather the cement crack open and swallow

Me, and let my little one down into the scented

Chambers of the city’s volcano and forgetting,

The arrows of demons hissing by my face,

Not scarring my cheek. These are not scars.

I don’t want your money for the sake of dreaming

In the world of women and men and trains

Loaded onto their platforms like exhausted

Dragons, breathing fumes, breathing flames.

My clothes are clean. I have no scars on my body.

I have not been beaten. And if your money

Were not the steps upward into one angry

Driver’s throne, his horns, his glass of a blurred

World, his costs, oh what it costs us, a pair

Of pants, a skirt, a room in a hotel, a child

Without a father, and it’s not for me, but

For the leaving, if I could be stripped of all

My burdens and fall like a feather from that tall

Black tower, be swallowed by the river, oh it’s not

For me, it is not of this life, oh, this scarred earth,

Sir, not in my hands, my hands, my empty hands.

The Main Computer

Rustin Larson

 

My father stared

At me blankly, died

Angry

He could no longer control

Anything. It was like an

Awakening. Nearby the paths

Of the woods lay littered with

Cedar chips and frost. There

Was complete silence for once.

The sun filtered through yellow

Leaves. At the hospital I

Took the wrong staircase and

Ran into a corpse upon his

Gurney. He wasn’t my father, but

Someone else. His face was not

Peaceful but looked like it

Had finished with a bad

Business transaction.

 

The next morning my car

Wouldn’t start, so I walked

To the funeral home. There

Were some papers to be signed.

He wasn’t going to be buried

Here, but back in Des

Moines, next to his wife.

There was transportation to be

Considered. I walked home,

But stopped for a doughnut and

Some coffee. I read the

News. A beautiful pigeon

With glowing lavender neck

Feathers strutted on the sidewalk.

He wouldn’t move or fly away

But almost seemed to be asking

To be picked up from the ground

And stroked, spoken to and loved.

I thought that was strange at the time.

 

I would take my daughters to the

Playground. Sometimes this would    

Go on video tape. There would

Be the sun and the blue, blue

Sky. You really got a sense

Of how we’re just this planet

Out in the vastness of space and

How delicate everything is.

I got a picture of Sarah,

A cloud of peace, telling

Me she loved me.

 

We must think. There is time, but

There isn’t time. Where I am

Are particulars of dirt, wads

Of candy wrappers, odd stains

Like blood-trails through snow.

 

I thought life would teach you. I

Could have told you more.  I was

A lazy father. Too troubled with an idea.

The idea, as it turned out, was

A lousy one and didn’t work.

I spent my entire life following this idea.

 

Le Noir

Rustin Larson

 

It was night, about twenty

Minutes after five, late November;

The neighborhood streets blackened

With rain, the lights of windows,

The eyes of houses, worrying out.

 

That hollow white Ford Econoline,

Shotgun; the backwards man fording

The icy steps; delivery-boy-helper, twenty

Bucks a week, for my father. I’d ride.

Charlie Chan say, “Best place for skeleton

 

Is in family closet.” The window dissolves

the images of fields, winter.

We’d drag in the monsignor’s

Set and he’d sprinkle it with holy water.

“Go light on the water, Your Grace.”

 

We’d return Mrs. Cannelloni’s stereo. 

She’d give us fried cookies sprinkled

With powdered sugar. Go into the night

And find out who you are not.

Charlie Chan say, “Happiest walk in life

Of postman is on holiday.” Chan say,

“Each country’s dance most beautiful

Dance in that country.” 

 

On my day off, I’d visit distant neighborhoods,

Eat in their sandwich shops, buy a guitar,

Let my hair grow, waltz in the breeze.

 

We must think. There is time, but

There isn’t time. Where I am

Are particulars of dirt, wads

Of candy wrappers, odd stains

Like blood-trails through snow.

 

I thought life would teach you. I

Could have told you more.  I was

A lazy father. Too troubled with an idea.

The idea, as it turned out, was

A lousy one and didn’t work.

I spent my entire life following this idea.

Give Me a Black Sedan

Rustin Larson

 

Give me a black sedan

with constellations. 

Moan like some time

as the rain types its wings,

a ghost, and I’ll swing

on the windshield,

hug the breath, my head,

the dirty dishes held,

well-intentioned,

to the ground, and wait

like a city, the oil fields,

helpful, and bump it

as night is sudden trees

of fire. Over curbs

the poets go silently

as if from an altitude,

and gravel is read

where light is rough enough,

and hesitates by a leash. 

It stinks to shave the skin,

to listen. There’ll be

the most down-to-its

–soul place where this little song

they bring out, as we sleep,

is recited, called “Hey Tooth,

Pork Roast” as we dream

the Lake Isle outside the skeleton

for the vegans, one thing

in my hand, an assembly plant

and steam folded over

on another, later smelling

broccoli upon another. 

It has been drained of herbs

for the carnivores. 

I thought about it a lot;

cappuccino. That it just turned out

to be semi-OK under the way

it goes; if I could be the ghost,

the factory of cakes, the sky

like the center of a self-sustaining

invisible rose, a human

that would be insistent,

a boutonniere where the rose counts,

something to be on my lapel. 

You can still see them,

proud of saying, “Go to.” 

I’ll slide, if you try,

a record of sorts,

into the mute. 

Their flight fills the place

where I live.

Bar

Rustin Larson

 

This bar sets off alarms.

It attracts swarms of cannibals.

On the other hand,

it's the only place

I can be alone and think.

It is an innertube

on a river. It is a knife

in an alleyway. 

It is my portrait

in negative upon the ash

of newspaper. It is

a marble wedged

in the crack of the sidewalk:

steely, comet, catseye,

black-eyed pea, aggie,

dragonfly, cub scout,

and Spiderman. It scolds

me like no mother ever had.

It is a loner. It loses

another friend. It plays

in the mud with

a heron's bone.

 
 
 

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