David Salner

The Royal, the Whiskey, the Snow

I’d been drinking and punching keys on my 
Royal clackey-clack, while snow was falling
on hedges and hoods, making even the trash
in the cans look beautiful outside the shack
I lived in. And that was years ago.

All sound was muffled but the crunch of tires
compacting snow, and the ding of the carriage return.
Earlier, I’d cleaned the keys with a safety pin,
prying the blue-black clots from the bellies
of the b’s and o’s. And that was years ago.

I got up to shovel so that the next morning
when most of the valley was still asleep
I could enter the great cold stillness and drive
to the power plant, where the wind shrieked
around towers and stacks. And that was years ago.

When I came back to my shot glass
from shoveling steps and salting the path,
the windows were coated with a haze of breath
frozen from head to sash—wondering, is this
the last poem I’ll write? And that was years ago,

long before Dell and Microsoft. I was happy
and desolate and treasured the feeling
I was alone in the world and destined for nothing
but that present tense of bourbon and snow,
very soon to change. And that was years ago.

David Salner’s fourth book is The Stillness of Certain Valleys (Broadstone Books, 2019). His poetry has appeared in many journals including The Threepenny Review, Iowa Review, Prairie Schooner, and previous issues of the Innisfree Poetry Journal. He worked in blue collar trades for most of his life, as iron ore miner, steelworker; works now as a librarian; lives in Long Neck, Delaware.



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