Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Dog's Life by Hank Kalet

with the dining room table
covered in bills
and all the proofs
that responsibility requires,
the packing slips
and insurance cards,
catalogues and doctor's notes,
I think sometimes of when I was 8
and the worst I had to do
was homework and swing my bat
and miss at a slow-tossed pitch
and wonder where that time went
and, sometimes, I just
look at the dogs and think
they've got it right,
find a patch of sunlight,
crawl into a ball
and sleep, yes, sleep.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Blue Wall in Chile
by Hank Kalet

es humillacion

on a blue wall in Chile
on the front page
of The New York Times as
is humiliation,
the graffito like a
chemical equation,
the two sides in balance,
the shock of no work
after years at a desk
and now home with no one
returning his calls,
the embarrassment
driving him to silence,
to lie to his son,
to avoid the mail,
the phone, to
bury himself in his house,
banging nails
into wallboard
and patching the dents
and cracks that come with time.
Idle hands
are empty hands, are
hands he’d rather hide
deep in his pockets,
holed up against the chill,
away from the elements,
the winter breeze
that pushes the trees to dance,
the painful numbers
trickling down
from the television.
-- Hank Kalet

Friday, November 20, 2009

Poem: Still Life: Graveyard on Woodbridge Avenue


Weather-beaten flags mark
graves of veterans,

red stripes fading to white,
to memory

weeds sprout like white hairs from
old-man’s half-shaven face

picket fence, gap-toothed
white paint chipped and peeling,
beaten by wind and rain

church fa├žade, a scratchy red,
unwashed brick
like dead leaves in the sun

Poem: Notes on 'En La Casa De La Casa'

On a painting by Kevin Patrick Kelly
(seen hanging in Small World Coffee, Princeton, Sept. 18)

Curling of pigment, brush strokes that
sweep the sweating hues, a yellow
that’s more than yellow, more than the glow
of an oven flame in the steamy
Southern Hemisphere afternoon,
blue curtains swept back in
an unexpected breeze, farm fields
speckled in distant color with an ocean blue sky
hovering like a bird lost in thought.
Sauce pot simmers, its enamel
the scratchy red of the unwashed brick
visible on overcast morning
in an empty back lot.
Can you see the hand of god
in the uneven lines, the movement
in the shadows implied by
heavy outlines, the disjunction
of space and mind?
Can you taste the mole poblano’s
sweet spice or smell the yellow tortillas
crisping in the oven’s wood-fired heat?
The eye plays tricks, acrylic glaze
infused with life, with light,
flat wooden canvas under
fluorescent bulbs in crowded
coffee shop, dishes clattering,
Princeton morning skittering under a sky
empty of pigment, rain falling,
curl of coffee’s steam
twirling into nothing at all.