Robert E. Wood: Three Poems
On Watching a Policewoman Monitoring
a Construction Site on West Peachtree
They are tearing up the street again,
what they like to call a surface street,
and I am sitting in my car writing you a poem
as you go about holding the world together.
You have it well in hand. There is no need
for your handsome .40-caliber Smith & Wesson.
Your cheekbones are enough. Your yellow vest
shines brighter than the yellow beast
grunting and thumping and delving
into what I would like to think of as the void
waiting beneath the surface of things
though you know better.
The antenna is busted and 500 bucks
seems too close to Bluebook
to make it worth fixing. The only station
coming through now is country,
which makes sense enough, a broke-down car
being the vehicle of choice for your ramblin’ man.
And there’s still one or two around in country music.
But I miss the road house juke box songs,
the pain songs, the train songs,
the sorrow in that always lonesome whistle.
I’m hearing mostly church-on-Sunday songs
and a guy who thinks he’s an outlaw
when he calls in sick to go fishing.
The sinners get a turn from time to time,
but not for long enough to matter.
Bad love and tequila give way
to traffic reports. Sunshine slowdown
on the perimeter, five-car pileup on the connector.
We’ll be ramblin’ slow this morning,
nobody’s travelin’ on.
Trolleys are back, shuttling us
around refurbished city centers.
We sit face to face on new wooden benches
or play the straphanger for a short ride
watching the business of the street go by.
I should feel joy in the clang, clang, clang
of the trolley, recall the beauty of Judy Garland
budding in Technicolor brighter than life.
Instead I’m remembering Steve Lawrence
and Eydie Gormé – their ghastly, smirking
small screen medleys tossing songs
together like soggy peas and carrots
in the junior high cafeteria.
Perhaps I misjudged Steve and Eydie.
I was young.
But you can’t choose your demons.