Martin Galvin



A LIFE OF AGEE, THE CAT

The cat who took Prozac had
as cats do have, a tizzy fit
at being discussed before breakfast.
She had pretty much decided anyway
to leave the house for good, take
To the road in the grand old way
And prove herself in the little towns
That had never met a cat who took Prozac
And could have been convinced
Of something wonderful about her act

But then the only human bean she loved
Without regret came down with a fever
Or, rather, went up with a fever, and had
Deliriums—or is it deliria—that lasted
In cat days many months so she couldn't go
And then when she could she wouldn't
For fear the only non-cat man she loved
Would fall into depression from the loss.

So she settled in to the domestic life,
Depressed, as only contented cats can be,
And she scatter-brained about the house
Once a day on the stroke of six
Chasing her tail in the manner of dogs
Who she thought quite frankly were barking fools.
She fed her master, who she deemed her mate,
A Prozac a day, dropping it into the glass of gin
He drank as tonic before his evening meal.

She smiled, the cat who took Prozac, at
her medical art, how it rounded out
The path she had chosen, the ways of her world.
Then she popped her Prozac and grinned out loud.



PREMONITIONS OF A SEWER BOY

They lowered me headfirst into the sewer
Since I weighed less than the galoots
Who held me by the ankles.  The soul I had
Those days was in my throat, trying to get out
But I wouldn't let it, anymore than I'd let
The smell get inside my heart, the way
That sally o'malley's did.  I was there
After all to get a tennis ball, the only one we had
That had rolled its determined way along the gutter
And into the sewer as if that fetid hole were its heaven
On earth.  And mine.  Sure, I said, pretending I didn't care
One hoot if they took me up and lowered me down
Sure and if you drop me, dreadful things will happen
To your good names as the tough guys of the neighborhood.

The score was 26 to 5, but we didn't think of calling the game
because of utter rout or gutter loss.  It had to be played until our time
For childhood was up and we were meant to go inside our houses,
Recite our schoolwork, scrub our hands and sit
To whatever food the mice and bigger brothers
Hadn't eaten.  And that swallowing sewer
was the thing that stood between our stick-ball game,
Smacking hard line drives out of imaginary ballparks
And our late afternoon continuing into later.

The walls on the way down were dressed in slime-green
And wetted down with thousand leggers and what
Was worse, things that didn't have a name, but
Anyway, had tongues that slinked along the mold
And moss then shot out at any boy just passing through
On the simple errand of going down to get a beat-up ball.
The lesson of corporal punishment rode down with me and Dante,
A corporal punishment that was almost the only thing
I remembered about the religion our mother loved.

As I went down, I wondered if my parents would miss me.
Who would take the ashes out of the furnace Tuesday nights?
I was sorry that I had never really learned to hate the cat
As much as the cat deserved, that I didn't give my brother
Knuckles for his birthday, that my socks had holes in them.
Random thoughts.  The kind boys have walking along
Or going down a sewer headfirst.  To kill some time
As I went, I ran the nine x tables twice then spelled
Out loud the hardest words I knew.  Transubstantiation,
Mediocre, illicit.  Not so hard when you're older,
Any of them, but I was ten and heading down to hell.

The ball came grudgingly away from its grave,
Frosted with the coldest gloop I'd ever touched.
I stuck it in my pocket, just in case, and threw down
Into the dire the rosary I'd never need again, having done
My penance and my repetitions for all the life I'd led,
And gave the signal for the mugs to haul me up
To walk among men and boys, a blooded saint,
Free from the guilt and fears that taunt the best
Of them, my chin daring the clouds to burst.
Later, I was eleven, then twelve.  Nothing much
To worry at but pimples, algebra, and girls.



THE WAYS OF MEMORY
    In Montclair, California

Just when I think I have forgotten,
I will recall the cloy of the eucalyptus,
bring back to my ears the roar and whine
of the chain saw that meant business
biting through the legs of the dense stand
and forgive, for our own good, such slaughter.

The nerve behind my knees tells me how the tree falls,
Finding its slow way between the arms
Of its others, its seed-kin, children and cousins,
to meet what's permanent of gravity,
a fall that needs more than one letting go
to finish up.  That fall I will remember

all the way down to San Diego
should my roots hold fast.



THE GREAT SILVER HORSE


You know me well enough to know some things
I would only do under foot-sore provocations.
To boot: a sale-slick country boy, the happiest face
I have ever seen off a Wal-Mart mannequin,
Who happens to have the cream puff just waiting?
at the Used Car Emporium on State Route 26
up to Millsboro next to the Move in Next Week
Mobile Home place and just south of a single-steeple
church that had been converted into an antiques shop
that calls itself God's Way and has not yet been
audited by the IRS but will be, by all the saints.
He has been waiting all day for a good taste that he
can pretty well tell is mine and he has been right here
for thirty two years and never missed a turkey dinner
and how was the family these days and the corn do I think
It will set up good and let's just take her down the road.

Now you can reckon the rest of it.  We did by darn and weren't it
just good to have the road to ourselves with those summer fat frogs
gone back to their own HeeHaw bogs to croak and he could let me
have this creampuff at cost because he had to move it off the lot
right fast to show his boss he knew his job and weren't it
lucky we had jobs at all what with those foreign fellas moving in
who would work for nothing most of them and did not buy a thing
to help the locals put the bird on the table neither.
                           
I knew I was back in the righteous world of Mickey Mouse,
Is A-O.K.  and Normal Rockinghorse
pastelling the 48 Contiguous all over Saturday Evening
while Roy Rogers sidled up to the Lone Ranger, said
he had a bridge to sell and did his faithful Tonto
have a river needed crossing anywheres about? 
And this horseless carriage he had to move were Silver
sure enough so I bought that sucker, brought it home, smiling
like gingerbread all the way. Sat her out front for my used-to-be-
new neighbors to see her for what she was. And rocked.  And spat.





Martin Galvin's work has won numerous awards, including First Prize for "Hilda and Me and Hazel" in Poet Lore's narrative poetry contest in 1992, First Prize in Potomac Review's Best Poem Competition in 1999 for "Freight Yard at Night," and First Prize from Sow's Ear Poetry Journal for "Cream" in a 2007 national competition.  He was awarded a writer's residency at Yaddo for August of 2007.  He will have poems early in 2008 in The New Republic and in Sub-Tropics, as well as in Innisfree.  In addition to his 2007 chapbook Circling Out and his book Wild Card, he has two other chapbooks: Making Beds (Sedwick Books) and Appetites (Bogg Publications).









                                    

 

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