I thought I am too busy to post anything on the blog, and yet like a faithful dog it waited. I thought I don’t have anything to say, I’m milked dry by my day gig, and yet I wanted to say something so you would not think I’d forgotten. I thought I’ll just share one poem that I love, and yet, I sat here for the last hour or more and reread all of Todd Boss’s collection Yellowrocket.
I had the good fortune to spend some time listening to Todd Boss last year at the Kachemak Bay Writers Conference (more on that later, sometime when I can wax rhapsodic about writers communing at the end of the Homer Spit). It was fun to watch him expound on what makes one poem tick and another flutter. He reminded me of his own poetry, lean, quick, and very very clever. Clever in a good way, a fascinating and crafted way.
So, I was going to pick one poem to share with you. And then I read them all. The top edge of the book is festooned with sticky-notes. I cannot decide. I cannot narrow it down to one favorite because in order for you to fully appreciate the smartness of his work, you’ll have to get a taste of the variety of his style. So here you go… three poems by Todd Boss. Buy his book and get to wallow in more of his work. I promise you: there’s not a dud in the bunch.
Blessed with Trump and Wild
or crap, but no less blessed,
my grandpas, when at last retired,
thumped the table card over card
at nickel-a-trick pinochle and
partners canasta, the same decks
pounded, bent, and shuffled soft
as their flannel shirts. As a boy,
they often held me on their laps,
their arms around me, so I could see
their hoards. Their buckles poked
and I fiddled with their braces.
I studied their hewn and stubbled
faces and watched them push
thick figures onto envelope backs
from a pencil nub, then rub them out
for a proper score. I had no words
for how it felt to sit so intimate with
kings, their hearts, their diamonds
fairly dripping through their knuckles
when they dealt. They’d handled
teams of horses in their time and
tilled a thousand acres roll on roll,
and raised whole families out of black
Wisconsin dirt, and on that map
I was a speck. A silt fault in the river.
I had no words for how I felt, nor
will I ever, for in that flicker naught
was said that couldn’t be said with
a click of a tongue or a snap of a
card or a snicker. Naught could be
bargained, either. Too soon, one
went out. And then, to a man, their
good hands folded and folded forever.
The Day Un-Dims
before it lightens,
emerging. A fish
out of darkness
before it begins
to glimmer; so
day is drawn
from depth, as if
a morning were
just an idea
quite yet hit upon.
And then, and
only then, does it
One Can Miss Mountains
and pine. One
and go on as
before as if
One does. One
One can even miss
the basso boom
of the ocean’s
and its rhythm.
A man can leave
and take nothing