Autumn Sky Poetry . . . Number 20 . . .

Adjusting to war coming

     by David McAleavey

On the theory that if you tread enough water

the waves won’t close over you,

I did sufficient chores

to get out of the house,

its pretense of interminability – 

solid bookcases, solid tables,

objects, objects. 

Walked past the World Bank,

people with smudgy crosses on their foreheads,

Ash Wednesday,

past the souvenir stands, t-shirts 5 for $9, talk about cheap,

one of those days so full of signifying

even the veins in a slab of marble

look like figures, see,

that’s a tall person, slacks tight on her buns,

walking away.

Picked a route around puddles, melting snow,

noticed a stubby obelisk beside the Ellipse

put up by the DAC to name men

given the 17th century right

to own this land.

When our lives turn long enough

we realize we’ll never

have anything the way it was,

we set up stones,

asking them to speak,

pretending they will last.

Many more stones coming,

rows and rows, across the river.

We call this adjusting.


David McAleavey’s  poems have appeared in a wide range of periodicals, including Poetry, The Georgia Review, Pedestal Magazine, Innisfree, Poet Lore, and Ploughshares. Additional poems are forthcoming in Denver Quarterly, Epoch, Connecticut Review, Magma Poetry, Praxilla, and elsewhere. His fifth and most recent book is Huge Haiku (Chax Press, Tucson, 2005). He teaches English and Creative Writing at George Washington University in D.C.


© 2011 David McAleavey