Come, you travelers of this land,
you hemmed in or put-upon
parsers of the pocketbook
bent on grandma’s heaping plates
or the Golden Gate.
Bring your paperbacks and iPhones,
your bags stuffed with Cheetos,
Snickers and pure spring waters—
worry not, there’ll be a pit stop
at Hardee’s or McDonald’s.
Put your cares on hold:
grades, divorces, bank accounts
or bosses’ peccadillos.
Say hello, offer a Chiclets, and nestle
against that shoulder pressed to yours.
Let the countryside lull you:
drowsing villages, twinkling farms,
headlights hurtling into battles
you’ve abandoned, taillights flaring,
impatient of promises ahead.
The Hound plays no favorites:
furrowed brows and weary clothes
are standard fare for all who board.
One night in leathery limbo
stamps your ticket to day’s new light.
Snapshot of Auntie
Mute eyes, stone lips—
once Auntie sang arias to snapdragons,
showering the neighborhood with Verdi.
Now she’s thrall to cold, cruel Silence
that’s spared her not even a murmur.
She fought valiantly, struggled, succumbed,
its sheer weight suffocating speech,
smothering all traces of mind.
Auntie’s hands lie limp in ours,
sound’s antithesis confining her,
dulling footsteps, whispers, greetings
and goodbyes—away we hasten
to work, play, sing, as if much clamor
can keep this death-in-life at bay.
Darrell Petska‘s poetry has appeared previously in Fourth & Sycamore and in journals such as Muddy River Poetry Review, Chiron Review, Star 82 Review, Verse-Virtual, and Clementine Unbound (see conservancies.wordpress.com). In addition to writing poetry and fiction, he’s tallied a third of a century on the academic staff at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, 40 years as a father (seven years a grandfather), and a half century as a husband.