kenneth pobo

Dindi watches snow clot
on her front window.  Roads,
frozen zoos closed to the public. 
She can’t get her car out of her

parking space, so she turns on the TV,
surfs a sad wave of channels,
“dangerous conditions”
a thief who just broke in.

Kenneth Pobo

As we devour gassy hot dogs,
strangers stare into windows
showing things which will pepper
garage sales—we talk about relationships,

a word that says nothing in four syllables. 
Yours, you say, sucks.  Mine is like a blue
hydrangea, wilting in July.  A halter top

floats by, JUICY printed on pink
sweat pants.  We get up, walk
toward Macy’s gaping mouth.
Fluorescent teeth gnaw us, a sale

in men’s pants, all the good ones
picked over, rejects
on a messy table.

Kenneth Pobo

“This shed is an eyesore.  Let’s tear it down and buy a readymade one at Home Depot,” Jeff says.

“Are you kidding?  This shed might be 75 years old.  Its wood wears weather scars beautifully.  Why do you always prefer modern?” asks Jerry.

August is butterfly month.  Black butterflies with a blue hem pop in on zinnias.  Yellow butterflies teeter on white culver’s root.  Monarchs tip stained glass wings on butterfly weeds, orange on orange. 

Jeff hated growing up in Keokuk, Iowa.  Dumpy farm houses, at least he remembers them as dumpy, cluttered sun-baked summer streets.  When the other boys were growing Beatles haircuts, dime store moptops, Jeff’s dad insisted he get a crew cut. He wanted to be in but it never worked out. 

Contemporary styles annoy Jerry–none of this moussed hair or extra baggy shirts and pants, underwear showing.  Jeff thinks guys look cute that way.  Jerry’s idea of a sexy guy is FDR.

“Politicians are never sexy, Jerr.”

“Well, those skinny skateboarders are about as sexy as mildewed sheets.”

The deer ate the buds off of their favorite hibiscus, a burgundy-colored flower big as a head.  This isn’t discussed.  It’s too “upset-making,” as Jeff says.

Jerry grew up in Joliet, Illinois.  He thinks of his childhood as a fence covered in pink and white sweet peas, a red wagon in the driveway, winning the school spelling bee in fourth grade (the word that eliminated Becky Crickson was “midgit.”).  Jeff sometimes reminds him that to this day Jerry thinks of his mother as an unholy terror and his father is a few documents stuffed in a bank strong box.

“You always want to remember the bad, Jeff.  I want to remember the good.”

“You copped that line from Baby Jane, when Jane says the same thing to Blanche, who, as I recall, was dying on a beach and looking most unglamorous.”

“You’re right.  It is a Jane reference—when movies were movies!  Who wants to see Batman films?  The cartoons were better.”

“Well, we can’t all curl up in black-and-white celluloid—look at those monarchs, you’d miss them if they were filmed in black and white.”

“Not if the cameraman was Sven Nykvist.”

“Sven who?”

“Sven Nykvist—Ingmar’s cameraman.”

“Oh Jesus, Bergman again.”

Two butterflies meet on the edge of a blue hyssop.  There’s room enough for both.  The hyssop hardly bends as wings tilt and butterflies revel in a good snack.

“You might be right about the shed, Jerry.  It seems wrong to disturb things too much.”

“Maybe so.  But rotting wood doesn’t stop rotting and it draws termites.”

Twenty years.  Butterflies and termites.  They go in the back door and sit on the porch swing.   It has a lonely creak they never oil.
   
Kenneth Pobo   
   

While a Tropicana rose drops
her last orange-red petals, cars,
oblivious politicians, dash by.  Up
from down the street Mary Carsling

lugs a brown bag, scowls.  I scurry too,
bump your orange juice glass over. 
I cram English muffin toast
in my mouth and hum

a crummy version of Sinatra’s
(Frank, not Nancy) “I’ve Got You
Under My Skin”—in such frenetic,
kinetic plop, a fuschia

blossom, purple and red,
hangs over the basket’s
edge, still,
utterly still.

Kenneth Pobo

Mrs. Magwood called Keats
the greatest poet—I preferred ice cream,

a date, and a door that closed
in our cramped house.  I remember

Keats said something about a thing of beauty
being a joy forever.  25 years later,

in my apartment a miltonia orchid blooms
while woozy drunks kick cars and

each other.  June.  A chill wind
suggests October.  Chicken bones stink

up my trash.  Yet this flower,
nicknamed the pansy orchid,

face fierce and bright, opens
beside a geranium even I can’t kill—

surely a thing of beauty,
but a joy forever?  I may get

several blossoms before it gets cancelled
like a bad sitcom.  No guarantee

it will bloom again.  Joy and forever
can make a good marriage,

but I see so many divorces, rancorous,
not even a hello on the street.  

Kenneth Pobo