poems by Timothy Gager

County Fair

with chickens,
humongous squash,
pregnant pumpkins,
award winning pie eating pigs,
and real pigs eating garbage pies.

Be careful of that shit,
in the barn, where blue ribbon winners
drink Pabst Blue Ribbon.
The printed beer symbols
on cracked plastic cups
end up kicked around,
beaten down loose dirt paths,
clattering like bones
from bustling city folks.

At night, the Merry-go-round and Ferris wheel
move the line from Point A
then back except
when the ride stops in the middle
a boy sits between his parents,
looks down, points,
from the peak of his world,
hoping life stays that way
just a few minutes more.

Second Hands

These angels don’t fly
that they circle, vultures
for awhile with white
blind love for you.
Time was taken away
addict, so soon,
you’ll be dead.

Didn’t God know
what he was doing
when I pleaded,
bring you back

into my life but he threw,
that wasted prayer away
and asked me for the fix.

Old Man in this bar

This bar is full of non-smoke,
this bar – is full
of dust and jokes
even if swept,
fill the corners of
this bar is where
people sit, is where
lovers start and steep,
sparks surge, later die,
never start…maybe

this bar is close to home,
this bar is close
to the next best friend
I’ll ever keep.
When I talk it listens,
it’s home I’m missing

this bar has rotten fruit
in its trays, rotten people
and trays; full of olives
I reach for, a girl I see
her olives are good
too. I want to taste
a drink of her neck
and stuffa pimento
in that drink
but that drink
in this bar yells,
“buddy, thisisa decent establoushment”

so then, I want this bar
to tell me something, please,
tell me to go–please leave,
g’wan yer way, I only listen
to this bar.

Conversation About Mike

last fall, when we received notice
that Mike wanted friends to phone,
his disease defeating him
now causing blindness
I did not call—
days later he was dead…
I was not ready for that
in this slow motion day to day
sixteen hours followed by eight of sleep

Last night one of our group
said she’d made those calls.
I stood as silent
as I had been last Autumn
“He had a peaceful death?l”
as I wanted new hope
on the tip of the tongue
death being a beautiful thing
“No, he was very scared,” she said.

I walked into the kitchen
to help the hostess.

Relapse

you couldn’t blow a leaf off a tree
or reach with your hand
into the center of the earth
you couldn’t
see the past by
looking into a black ball,

that might smash
against your head,
burn you up to the elbow, and when
a tree crushes your body
will anybody hear it?

Maybe you’ll
know it happened
when the building blocks
crumble, dust to dust.

three poems by Timothy Gager

out with the cool kids

We began with seven ounce
pony-boy, Michelobs
in Gary’s old Falcon
when we weren’t playing
baseball or football
in someone’s backyard

We hurt when
trees popped up in the outfield
or the secondary;
the unyielding defenders
we ran into
full force because we
wore no pads—
played and loved
without fear
without success

There were no cheerleaders
to kiss at Mooney’s house
only bad habits
and the gritty aftertaste
as we out drank
those kids we always
wanted to beat

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