Tuesday, July 20, 2010

dexter, ny

it was the hopeful
hopelessness in their eyes
that stayed with me

'just passing through'
i answered
as they nursed cold drafts

these three -
him paunchy and too loud
her rough-edged and sadly happy
and the barkeep
holding on too tightly to the waist of a glass of ice-water
(if you let her go she's gone)
were too happy as i asked
if i could use their washroom
and fill my bottle with water

and i wanted to stay
to show them a good time
but the arrogance of that thought
caught me squarely
as i washed my face
in their bathroom
and saw my eyes
looking back at me
in the tarnished mirror
spotted with the soapy
water splashings
of patrons long gone
and never to return

knowing i'd never return
i walked past the bar
gave soft-voiced thanks
holding the door handle
to make sure the door shut quietly behind me

and i listened to their voices echoing in my head
as i walked past the boarded up shops
and peeling paint houses
crossed the crumbling road
and biked out of town


Noelle Renee said...

Really liked this one Steven. Haunting images, a sense of emptiness, hollowness, not belonging, wanting to make things better but not knowing how, feeling out of place disingenuous. You show respect by shutting the door quietly behind, as one does when leaving a church, even when it is empty of congregants. There is a poverty and a desperateness about the place and the dynamic of the interactions in your perception, a loneliness. Very creative work.

Dan Gurney said...

A lovely poem, steven. Wow. I loved how you caught yourself in the presumption of making other people happy, and the care with which you shut the door.

Sid Smith said...

Fantastic bit of imagery there Steven. I can see it so clearly. Beautiful clarity!

Eryl Shields said...

You paint such a real picture, I can almost smell the place, and I'm sure I know those people!

alaine@éclectique said...

Loved this Steven!

willow said...

This is my favorite of your poetry so far, Steven. I read it through three times and savored every word.

oldpoetsoul said...

The loneliness of this is so real, Steven! What a wonderful characterization of isolation.

Elisabeth said...

I think I know this feeling, Steven, this longing to connect, this sense of being wanted and at the same time an intruder. This hopefulness of being welcome with something to offer and something to gain, but deciding in the end against the effort.

Wonderful and evocative writing here, Steven. A short story in one hit.

Golden West said...

Really well written, Steven - I enjoyed that immensely!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Marvellous imagery Steven.

steven said...

hi noelle, this is based on an actual experience. i was astonished at the level of economic depression in some of the smaller places i biked through in upper new york state. steven

steven said...

hi dan, it's funny how advantage of almost any sort makes me feel uncomfortable. it's a perception of an imagined perception. in the end i am just myself. nothing more. steven

steven said...

hey thanks sid!!! steven

steven said...

eryl, the moment i'm sharing here is very real in my head even now as i think back to it. i'm sure it's repeated many times over every day in various locales across the world. steven

steven said...

thanks very much alaine! steven

steven said...

phew willow thankyou for your generous comment here. steven

Linda Sue said...

Oh wow! Thanks for taking us right there- I can even feel the splashed water on your/my face. Beautiful poem, love this one so much- printed it out for my famous inspiration fridge door...You should submit this one to "The Sun" publication - they would most likely feature it!

steven said...

linda sue - i'm so amazed that this one has such value!! how do you submit stuff to "the sun?" is this my ticket to the fame and fortune i crave?!!!! steven

staceyjwarner said...

very profound...i loved the line about the arrogance of the thought of showing them a good time...how very deep you go steven.

much love

oldpoetsoul said...

This poem stayed with me today, and when I came back to show someone else, I noticed how clumsy my earlier comment was . . . I was trying tell you how well you communicated the sorrow and compassion you felt for them (and how I could feel their loneliness.) I'll bet you see things when you cycle across this country that most people never see.

steven said...

hey oldpoetsoul thankyou very much. comments are a funny place and way to leave . . . comments . . . . i know that when i bike i see what others see but the pespective might be different. it's a lot slower. you arrive more slowly and leave more slowly. your needs and expectations are very different. in my very brief passage through upper new york state i saw the smooth and the roughened faces of a little part of america. faces that are no doubt present across much of the united states. thanks for your thoughtful comment. steven

steven said...

elisabeth thankyou for your thoughts. it's funny to feel better than and then to release hey you're actually not a whole lot different than. some people need to feel better than others. i used to feel that. now i don't need to. hmmmm. steven

steven said...

golden west thankyou - i'm glad you liked this real piece of my experience of life in upper new york state. steven

steven said...

weaver thankyou very much!! steven

steven said...

stacey j it's lovely to see you here and thankyou for your kind comment! steven

Liza said...

"(if you let her go she's gone)"

you have really built something here Steven
"that stayed with me"

Reya Mellicker said...

Hair stood up on my neck while I read this. So evocative, so provocative. Wow.

steven said...

hey liza thanks for this. it's hard to know why this piece is so appealing to readers. it's just as a i saw it but then again maybe that's where the real insights into life lie eh?! steven

steven said...

hey reya thanks for this! steven