Her middle initial was so concrete
that only time and the weeds underneath
could ever crack it,
could ever threaten her name.
She once read an entire book
but the color blue
that seemed less real
than that one capital letter
immobilized by its great cast-iron period.
I took her hand and that was enough,
each finger neither a friend nor a voice.
Certainly not an answer.
A heather growing in the wild.
A touch complete enough.
Holding hands on a crisp autumn day,
an act at once too familiar and too formal.
A blue flower against a blue moon.
A hint at nothing more than the hint itself.
When the great Roy Orbison sings “In Dreams,”
he redeems the broken things in dreams.
The lonely bush, the golden jackass,
topiary fit for a king in dreams.
Used bandages like two Japanese flags,
the redwing blackbird spreads its wings in dreams.
I kiss each naked finger goodbye
every time the telephone rings in dreams.
Subconscious swings through jungle trees,
hit by shit chimpanzees fling in dreams.
The twentieth century’s empty room.
Yellow lights flashing under blankets in dreams.
I’m tempted to let this world unravel,
to detune all the brass and strings in dreams.
Beware, Glen, equally the sweet talk
of honeybees, the hornet’s sting in dreams.
I kissed a girl on a bus
And that bus went everywhere
I kissed a girl with the windows open
And the windows were our mouths
By this time the act of kissing
Had gotten all muddled
With the act of rolling
The landscape revealing itself
Little by little
Mile by mile by mile
Word got around
And word got embellished
By the young
Who would roll into each other
Like dice warmed
By the very thought
Of a stranger’s breath
By the dead
Who had left instructions
Their tombstones chiseled
The inscriptions equal parts
Memorial and mystery
I could see the gears
Under those words
I could feel the globe’s
Against my bare skin
My feet moist with morning dew.
Glen Armstrong holds an MFA in English from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and teaches writing at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. He also edits a poetry journal called Cruel Garters.