I announce my leaving early
to find my coat
a pair of stragglers in an alcove
sneaking a smoke
a group of women talking by a wall
in a room
expanding in the dark
my gracious host
standing in the hall
appears lost for a second
skyward eyes searching
as a child arrives
in fire engine pajamas
guys downing beers
as a quarterback is looking
for a receiver
in the family room
people are glad I came
I’ve got my coat
the car keys
I’m given a slice
of leftover cake
the car is down the block
along the tree-shadowed
above us the stars
a burning furnace.
Think about coming back from the bar
with my sugary dad all lopsided and jubilant
just waltzing our way down the avenue
in the shadows of late afternoon
and think about my boyhood heart
discovering seeds for sale
in a stand outside the hardware store
think about the colors of pumpkins and squash
green beans and peaches too
and I’m asking if one can grow a watermelon
from seeds and of course you can
my dad explaining how it’s done
talking in breaths and reading from the packets
and it’s hard not to break into a run
as the streets of stores turn into blocks of houses
and we reach the rectangular patch of dirt
that fronts our square one-story house
think about the two of us on our knees
plowing the ground with fingernails
when dad gets dropsy and the seeds and packets
blow high above the fences yards and homes
now think about the ways a day burns dark
around the edges until it’s time to come inside
as the scattershot seeds my father spilled
disperse across the deepening night.
The Crying of Page 234
I’m just paper. Pressed in ink.
Standing with others on somebody’s shelf.
Years since anyone’s opened me up.
I wait for my chance to say what I know.
It was an affair of the heart. Nothing more.
It was Jason Gladstone drew me in.
His ebony eyes. His words imbibed.
Tales of travel. Ports of call.
And there was Jim, the forthright father.
The husband I was prepared to abandon.
Wouldn’t you dear reader? If given the chance
to embark upon a life that’s new.
But now the page. My page.
The one that I was meant to be. Where I turn
to kindly, Capt. Henry. A whaler in his day.
Who knew the ways of the fickle sea.
The ancient skipper leans back in his chair.
Takes a soft pull on his blackened pipe.
Then half-way down the paragraph I know.
They’ll be no taking Jason for my Jim.
How do you leave a once loved page?
Darken it’s days. Perhaps forever.
As the Captain says, down near the bottom:
Let it go my dear, let it go.
Henry Crawford is the author of two poetry collections, American Software (CW Books 2017) and The Binary Planet (The Word Works 2020. His poems have appeared in several journals and online publications. His poem The Fruits of Famine, won first prize in the 2019 World Food Poetry Competition. His poem Blackout was selected by the Southern Humanities Review as a finalist in the 2018 Jake Adam York Witness Poetry Contest. His poem Making an Auto Insurance Claim was selected as an honorable mention in Winning Writer’s 2019 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest. His multi-media work, Gettysburg Auto Tour, was selected as a finalist for the 2019 Deanna Tulley Multimedia Prize. He has produced numerous online poetry events and is currently the host of the online poetry series, Poets vs The Pandemic.