The Vet's Club, Big Sandy, Montana, 1956

My first friend a peanut
Our playground a hardwood floor
Our hills all red vinyl booths
Our sky always the dark underside of tables
Our clouds gum pressed to our sky
Our breeze the swirl of skirts and long legs
Our sun the juke box our god Glenn Miller

Our awful hymn a String of Pearls our seasons
Always cold with the stink of spit tobacco
Spilled beer and Beam for our rain
Falling over the scorched edges of our low sky
Our thunder the lovelessness of drunks
Our lightning unfaithful feet and knees
Overcast and collaborating before me

A three-year-old boy and his peanut
Climb above their cluttered horizon
Atop slick hills to steal hard sips
Through a thin red straw in a tall thin glass
While all the lesser gods dance drunk and angry
Away another holy winter in the false
Light of our sun and their son

The Hall Closet

Sometimes when you stop
What you are doing and put down all
You hold in your hands and dry them
Slowly with a towel like all towels
You return in softest memory
To the hall closet and replace
The vacuum cleaner with yourself
And close the door

You are larger now in that space that is
Like all space and your belly resents
Your thighs your arms are longer
Heavier than those of the child you were
The child you are the child still
In the darkness taking joy
From the narrow light reaching
Like love but not love quiet
As gold paint and as safe
As the lock on your heart

There is joy in the dust
More protection than punishment
From love flung like a shoe rack
In a rage of unhappiness and twisted
Affection expressed with broken names
Cooed heartlessly through the door
Joy in knowing that as long
As needed until the tempest passes
The hall closet remains the same

- Tom Carpenter