A Concession of Love She followed the travel and the antique shows on PBS all through the Sunday lull, his couch’s better half. With upturned eyes let him zap over to the NFL taking her book up, asking that the volume be kept down. Though she couldn’t hold her interest wholly aloof from the barbaric game— surprising dad with a gasp, Gaw that dude’s fast! She’d look back at her novel with a glance… Then marvel at the fans and their face paint. She wanted to know just why the referee had thrown that flag. And frowned ambiguously at the vainglory of a touchdown dance. Hoisted her eyebrow at the extra point. Reference Rekindled from an OED, a word from long ago “jangala,” a dry, dry land, a desert, flourishes to the green wood jungle has come to depict in her day— lapsed as her gaze off to another book so for its cover. She reads silent at the PC on her elevated desk amid the printed volumes to check out. How better embody that little-heard fountain Wisdom than surround oneself with her spines? Delicate as usage, hard as sense to fix, one can only imagine her orderly and tidy as these shelves— going home, her hair in the wind undone. The Super-id The sea ever wagged by its tail. It’s all continuum, seals playing out into their horror of an orca’s play with little mind for manners, appearance, “plasticity,” the business of the sails of cloud stacked like the coasts’ glass mountains, these Aeolian beings, drawing from it fertile rain, shimmering nets and devastating storms. Great unselfconsciousness swims between one’s hunger and another’s from deep memory clear to the shallows of our shellfish. And our muck, threatening its copious data of marvels. And unmasking me, boy wizard on the shore of the ponderous metaphor. To My Problem “Symptoms, symptoms,” said the therapist, halfway into another session. “It’s good of you to talk about them. Shortness of breath and temper. Irritableness. Obsessive compulsive. Insomnia. Erratic spending.” I don’t know how professional it was of my Doctor Strangelove, though it certainly had a psychological effect on him at last to come unhinged and just lay it all out— “Mr. Steffen,” with a deep sigh, “underlying all this chaffing, there is some little stone somewhere in your shoe.” I've written you letters with no address for the envelope with my thinking it out, how to unravel your skein of sudden desires and a tilted past. I've come away from psychologists, from groups and meetings with certificates and tokens saying I could overstep your molehills— only again day after day to find myself lulled in the elevations of attitude, on the islands of prickly fruit grousing about the prices, the wait, bearing my teeth at others with their deplorable hair and manners. Only to have them—What's your problem?—invoke you anew and remind me everybody drinks the same water. With your sniff dreaming a rib bone from the takeout bag being kicked around by the wind, snapping at the wind's hand, biting your fingernails, drifting again into the blind spot of your oncome; with your dispersal of asking, flirt, maker of No… Huh-uh… Get lost… Should I only try again author of the shrug, again and again— to the break of sunlight out of nights and days of rain so here and there an afternoon I am filled and you vanish like water into the green flag of the grass.
Recipient of a 2021 Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship, Michael Steffen’s poems have appeared in publications, including, The Boston Globe, The Concord Saunterer, The Dark Horse, The Lyric and Poem.