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“Poem With a Line by Brett Lott” is from Jewel

Barbara Crooker Barbara Crooker

45s, LPs

My autistic son listens to the oldies,
digs that old time rock 'n roll rhythm & blues.
My husband says it's like our teen years
are hanging out in his room, coming out of the radio—
When the night is dark, and the land is far
and the moon is the only light you see

rolling up the sleeves of their black tee shirts,
collapsing on the bed in a froth of petticoats,
what's left on the beach when a wave
subsides and the tide begins to ebb,
plants a kiss on the shore, then rolls
out to sea, and the sea is very still once more
Baby oil and iodine shine on our arms
and legs, lemon juice in our hair,
plastic transistor radios tuned to The Top Ten.
Get outta that kitchen and rattle them pots 'n pans.
What misfired neurons cause him to shake
and fidget his fingers before his eyes,
call out in class when the teacher's talking,
be out of synch with everyone else?
Up on the roof it's peaceful
as can be, and there the world below
can't bother me.
When we're gone, what then?
What slot will he fit into like a quarter
slipping in a juke box for three plays,
slow songs you could dance to all night long?

Poem with a Line By Brett Lott

I come downstairs, late, an ordinary Saturday morning,
smell coffee and bagels, step over the old dog
dozing in the middle of the floor
in a wide rectangle of sun,
and maybe my hair is freshly washed,
and catches the light like a glossy wing,
or maybe you smell the vanilla
Iíve rubbed here and there,
but that old language of our bodies is resurrected,
and we move our fingers over familiar hills and valleys.
I breathe in your skin, the hair on the back of your neck,
you pull me down on your lap,
and leave the pile of bills
you were working on.
Yes, the television hums
its little babble, and our son
chatters and fiddles with legos,
and yes, thereís a long list
of errands to be run.
But we are conjugating familiar verbs,
decorating with adjectives,
building new sentences noun by noun.
We are remembering syntax, etymology,
why love began, the original sin.

Van Gogh's Crows

My son has been pacing, wringing his fingers,
flicking from news to weather channels,
as a hurricane moves up the coast.
His panic is palpable, lurks in the murky air
pushed up from the tropics ahead of the storm.
Nothing we say can calm him, as he wears a groove in the rug.
I think of Van Gogh, those wheat fields under the pulsing
sun, the scornful voices of the crows, the writhing blue sky.
Think how hard the simplest action must be
when those voices won't leave you alone,
when even the stars at night throb and gyrate.
My son says his skin crawls, his back is always itchy.
What would it be like to lift from this earth,
rise above a sea of molten gold, scratch
your name on the blue air, “caw caw caw,”
be nothing more than a black pulse beating?