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Steve Langan

Good Morning America

I am so sorry I nearly left the mind

for the body, for the spirit; forgive me.

Most days I am really very happy,

I utter with dripping reassurance,

though some days I’m a severed finger

wrapped in ice on a cold table…

and I’m the surgeon driving in

from south of town in the rain.

Please withhold your pity and contempt.

I cannot see much out of these eyes.

I don’t have a disease. Months recede

into seeing nothing much often or well.

And everyone dies? my daughter says,

glancing away from the television,

but I have to go to work every day at eight;

I don’t have time for questions.

It’s the place where all the people are,

I told her one. We complete projects,

we make money, we walk down

excellent hallways chanting emails.

Right Mind Poem

Consequently, we visited the Right Mind Boutique

to be fitted.

Plantations with rows where in the damp evening,

shirtless amid the ringing, you were reminded.

I am not condemning (repeat).

Neither am I beseeching nor promulgating.

Consequence matters…and you and I?

We falter and disagree, reassemble, try again.

The manner in which you consider love

is how I have begun to connect rigor to tumult

while you gently take my pulse—

tickety tick—“thank you friend”—

as the slowdance of white uniforms

enters our likewise room.

Diptych on the Sofa

I have my feet up and my arms folded.

You never know what’s coming your way.

A few birds in the engine and now

we’re standing on the wing in the Hudson.

As an antidote against dying,

I began to learn to pay attention.

Greener greens, purpler purples,

fruit on the vines we can almost reach.

My arms are still folded; my legs, crossed.

It takes its toll, relaxation.

You begin to notice your reflection

in every crisp pixel; you love too much

the ironic announcer you hated once.

No one loves television more than I!

Runaway Haiku

Gentle rhythmic trickle on the roof late last night—

who are the most incredible poets writing today?—

and now rainfall with mist all day

like somebody who knows something well

and tells others but tells them over and over

until even those polite listeners smile implying stop

in a clenched posture bordering on rage.

The neighborhood kids congregated at my house.

I felt special. Mom was kind to them.

A ragtag group. We aged and of course we moved on.

It’s not sad, really.

Reputation matters in all seasons, especially spring.

The town workers are out cleaning and clearing;

their bristle brushes make our children nervous—

be a good sport, we remind ourselves, at all times—

and now the whole town’s out in hats and slickers

watching the clamp followed by four deep trucks

gather up their careful piles of soggy brush.

Seven Quatrains

I heard it clearly, even though

it was breezy and I was on duty,

young and serious, apprentice to

the great and competent—

The many ways my throat felt cut,

an oily rag on the table nearby,

time and good intentions, and even once at

that fun party we thought we’d have to miss—

When you name me, keeping my spirit alive,

yourself not dead, or just to fill time,

remember my panic, too, my rage and mistrust,

the flowers I trampled through, and that other time—

I upset nothing, not even the snake

who seemed prepared for my prodding;

I upset the wind a little. I upset the guardrail near

the church by neglecting it—no, forgetting—

Saying excuse me to my own ghost is how

careful I am today on the fragile planks

the workers are building when it’s not raining,

and where do they go when it is—

Calling me in from our front porch

for dinner, for a new beginning,

before I was a sinner, before all the sinning,

people whom I love, who love me, a tranquil day—

Overwrought practices, miserable conclusions,

someone else’s compendium of sacrifices,

and it’s possible now to breath well and sleep,

and the food here is delicious, tender meats, leafy greens—


Steve Langan is the author of Freezing, Notes on Exile & Other Poems, Meet Me at the Happy Bar, and What It Looks Like, How It Flies. His collection Bedtime Stories (Littoral Books, Portland, ME) will appear in Spring, 2024.


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