two poems by Terry Rasmussen
Shopping Cart Dreamer

between her
and the beautiful stranger
with sleepy green eyes
and sunsweet hair
lay only Sunkist oranges,
Bartlett pears;
while she tries to decide
between Jonathan Delicious
and Washington Reds,
he turns towards her,
(and she fumbles through the apples)
calling to a young girl
who brushes by her cart;
he smiles at them both
(her gaze shyly falls --
to scan sale tags)
and he lifts the child
with the same green eyes,
placing her amongst Cheerios,
bananas and milk;
she turns toward the center aisle
lingering over melons
and possibilities --
then turns back
too late;
they've disappeared
round the corner --
she'd intended to invite them home
perhaps feed them breakfast;
she boldly gathers up
never tried
Roman Reds.

No Easy Language

once others stop listening
we can plead with switchboard operators
to ignore do not disturbs
since two weeks is too long
when each day seems so tentative,
so stubborn, he's my brother, we can argue
as if that gives us certain rights
with language and the lappings of the heart;

labored breathing a warning regarding small talk
yet we still spill half thoughts
about a daughter's first ballgame,
the burnt fish in the oven,
the heavy snow falling against a pink-skyed,
still December night;

when such breathing dramatically ceases,
we hold our breath, our tongue, our heart
until a voice becomes audible down river
cursing another tangled line and
the quicksand rising in the chest;

when the voice resumes
to avoid more silence, we can ask the same
tiresome questions
are you feeling any better?
is there anything you need?
the answers exhausting us all
so we bite our lips, hold back
the ones that demand white-celled lies:
how does it really feel?
are you frightened like me?
have you all but given up?

then the thanks for calling
the usual abrupt conclusion
with no need or time for a goodbye
and too late for an I love you
we're left hoping that God or someone
equally omnipotent will interrupt the dialtone
to answer a few more questions, like
does he remember
the easy language of childhood
beneath the porch on Union Street
back when talking was so much easier,
but so much less fun,
than some ridiculous dare,
like climbing into the unlit attic
kissing Vicki Clark's brother,
or touching a worm to our tongues?
does he remember
when only goldfish and turtles left
and simple good-byes in the garden would do?