Sometime Too Hot the Eye of Heaven Shines
And the rains come, the world catches fire
and my mind drifts. I have a dream about
Juliet Binoche that I can’t remember,
except that it happened which makes it as real
as so much in my life. In The Rules of the Game,
Europe is on the brink of war, and France
is mad with lust. A woman in an ocelot hat
throws back her head laughing, a famous
aviator is shot by the groundskeeper
(a case of mistaken identity) and life
goes on. The world is unraveling
in 1939, but c’est la guerre. Sometimes
I have crazy dreams where everything goes wrong,
and I still love you. And I wake up and I love you.
They stayed with me for a week in the attic room when
they were between apartments.
She was amused by me.
I had a crush on her.
She hung her bras up in the bathroom.
I slept with her best friend.
It was a small house, one room front to back,
bedroom on the side, between the two-lane
and the Rock River, eleven miles out of town,
surrounded by scraggly pines, a ’65 Skylark
parked in the yard, absent a girl
to slide down the bench seat laughing at a joke
she’s trying to tell, heading north
on the Interstate to White River
with a cock-eyed smile.
I wanted to say “stay” on the way back
and she did.
They came to Vermont from Michigan
or Wisconsin with some college friends
to start a paper that failed before I met them.
He had oil money. Her father was in the CIA.
We worked in bars and restaurants and
read the same books. Fredrick Exley was a favorite.
We named a drink after him.
She teased me about “that girl in the car”
and tried to scare her off when we ordered
drinks at the bar, saying something rude
like it was a joke.
She’s not like us, that was the message.
We’d been to see Saturday Night Fever
and danced up Main Street.
She smelled like patchouli which made me swoon.
I didn’t call again.
Late spring, back door open after the rain
and the river is rising up the bank, you could feel it
in your body. I was reading the papers
on the back porch facing the river when she came by
and confided something about her boyfriend
I didn’t want to hear. I poured her coffee
and tuned out, listening to the river
and cars driving past, not slowing.
She came by again and made small talk
about the Red Sox. It was late in the season
and Boston was eight games up on the Yanks.
She said she had an abortion the day before.
It wasn’t his. “Well that’s done,” she said,
the hurt seeping into her eyes, her voice,
her slightly crooked teeth.
I wrote a five-word poem inspired by Mayakovsky
(one word was a gun) and moved
to New York City the following spring.
It didn’t make things better
but it stanched the bleeding.
She married her boyfriend’s best friend
in Virginia six months later
and invited me to the wedding.
a graphic novel
Be the car that passes on the right, the rockslide, the windstorm,
the broken cliffs at night.
Be the ragged branches, the wobbly bed, the rain on the window,
the drunken kiss.
Be the getaway car, the tires on wet pavement, the hand on the wheel,
the tender scar.
Be the quarry rocks at dawn, the waning moon, the anxious calm,
the gasoline smell.
I’m standing on Main Street, near Sam’s Army Navy.
A big logging truck pulls up to the light.
I take a picture and send it to my friend in Mexico.
“This town’s more beat than ever,” I write.
“Eight feet of water from Irene. The Brooks House fire.”
The air brakes hiss and sigh. It’s fucking cold.
I recognize a guy at the coffee shop, Mocha Joe’s.
It’s new. It used to be Joe’s Shoe Repair.
I can’t think of his name. Maybe I never knew it.
He recognized me too. We nodded.
I put my arm around Judy or Gina or Jocelyn
at the bar at the Latchis Hotel, behind me down the hill.
A guy with a beatbox sang Gordon Lightfoot songs.
That was in ’73. Was it worse then? Maybe.
They hold the Brattleboro Poetry Festival there now,
at the Latchis Theater. It’s new, too.
Not the theater. It’s a run-down Art Deco gem.
I saw Chinatown there.
My friend in Mexico e-mails back: “Big Red.”
The name of the truck. It’s painted on the grill.
I hadn’t noticed.
The Latchis was a railroad hotel. Rudyard Kipling
came up on the train on his way to Naulakha
in Dummerston, a house shaped like a ship.
He wrote The Jungle Book there. And Captains Courageous.
I was disdainful of Kipling, but I did take a girl there.
Mary Beth. We parked on Kipling Road.
We didn’t see the house. She was a work friend’s girlfriend.
“No one will find us here,” she said.
Fleming Meeks is a poet and former journalist. His work has appeared in American Poetry Review, Brevity, December, Kenyon Review Online, New Ohio Review and Yale Review, among others. His 8,000-word essay on Belfast poet Ciaran Carson was flagged on the cover of the Sept/Oct issue of APR. He was a magazine writer and editor more for than 30 years , including 20 years at Dow Jones. His 1990 interviews with actress Hedy Lamarr for a feature story in Forbes, formed the backbone of the 2017 documentary "Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story." The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and was broadcast on PBS in the “American Masters" series. He lives in Montclair, N.J., and holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts.