A Blue Line
for Denis Johnson Hey, look, when you used to come into my kitchen I didn’t even know where to stand, it was my kitchen, but it was yours, that quickly. And the evening had a metal mouth which was meant to scare us, but we listened to the desert instead. You taught us. Unemployed, fuck the moon. Years later there’s a dog biting into my book. I pass the book on before too long. I hear feet running toward the bank, then back again. It’s night. The wives have come home to look at the husbands who are thinking through someone from earlier in the blue day. The blue line. The blue hat. The blue Atlantic and that incredible blue distance to the small apartment on the other side of the blue continent. The blue judge, the blue court, the blue copywriter good enough to say goodbye instead of staying. Hey, once in the blue rain I was screaming for you. It was more foreign than a foreign city. Every time I left the house the rain got bluer, and I had to turn back. Worse, I felt trapped. It went on and on. I went nowhere. I didn’t even know there was still a blue line from me to you, that if I had just followed it I would have found you: lonely like me then, with your mouth to the window, and the stars blinking but saying write darkly for now. Write darkly.
Let me bend to repair your shoe and the huge hallway within. From another point in my being I come to you and not as a straight line either.
MICHAEL BURKARD is a 75-year-old poet who has published poetry in books and magazines since 1970. His last book was Lucky Coat Anywhere (Nightboat Books, 2011). He is retired from Syracuse University, where he taught for many years, and now lives in Vermont.
Artwork by Austin Veldman.
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