John Glowney

Visitation

 

My neighbor tonight is in his underwear
carrying out a bag of trash, a working-class
Santa, no robe, his spindly calves
catching the sequined moonlight
like the face of the sickly kid
in the war movie on the late night
you know will freeze up in the big battle.
He is not drinking or cursing the dark
or taking a drag on the faint fire-fly
of a cigarette; he is just crossing
the cracked and scored rectangle
of the driveway/ basketball court
wearing only white underwear
and a pair of flip-flops that make
an odd little tune, clip-clip, scrape,
clip-clip, above the canned applause
of a tv show looping out
of the window into the zombie slave
glow of tonight’s stars. And to
the other hierarchal order of almost
but not quite invisible beings
for whom he’s carrying this load
of manna, to the unwashed crowd
awaiting bread crusts, coffee filters,
banana peels, grapefruit rinds, left-over
chicken pot pie, his mind is
great and unknowable and terrible
and his questions play the die
of chance or fate, and what he
empties into the metal can may
not be enough, or may not be in
time, or will not last until the next
visitation, but he has risen anyway
from his tv and his bag of potato chips
as if he understood the role of a god
was to atone for his long absences
as best he can.

 

“Visitation” previously appeared in Pontoon.

 

John Glowney is a past winner of Poetry Northwest’s Richard Hugo Prize and Poetry Society of American’s Robert H. Winner’s Memorial Award. His poems have appeared in, among others: ZYZZYVA (forthcoming); Passager; Pontoon; Poetry Northwest; River Styx; Green Mountains Review; Connecticut Review; Southeast Review; Alaska Quarterly Review; Nimrod, Mid-American Review, Northwest Review; Michigan Quarterly Review.  He is a practicing attorney in Seattle.


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