Bums’ Park Yoga Class
Our wives twist to the sky
and become glistened divas
offering their hands like wafts
of smoke. We stare
from the patio bar and listen
to the elegant “oohhhmmms”
and sip our craft beers.
Nothing is allowed its own
silence so oldies music
rises across the renewed park.
The amphitheater combs its locks;
dignified statues politely stare
into the golden corporations.
But the bums
have been displaced
closer to the cheap real estate
on the Missouri and I remember them
sleeping like bushes
along the busy intersection.
Large hollow, modern sculptures
rose from the sloped landscaping.
They stared like empty headstones
arranged in eternal resonance.
They were hauled away,
Party in Paris, Max Beckmann
The canvas is a warm reddish hive
filled with jagged faces creased downward.
On the eve of the Third Reich,
businessmen, socialites, and artists are composed,
the room jammed with angles.
Paintings hold up the walls. Light
cannot enter closed eyes.
Very casual, this sexuality,
the supple flesh now lived in,
all matter in sloped poses. The gravity
of studied boredom burns from lapels.
A loud Russian guffaws in the background;
it would be rude to notice.
Instead they pretend to hold
mortal concerns at bay.
Dinner jackets and evening gowns
arranged across the room.
The world has grown this way.
Cracks in the neighborhood sidewalk
become a fresh sidewalk back 45 years.
The ribbon wound along a hill
in the local park where a small pond winked
with darters and bullheads swam
to shore to swallow fallen mulberries.
My father built a wooden go-kart
out of scrap lumber, rope, and tricycle wheels.
After Dad sanded the seat, Mark and I
carefully slopped yellow paint
on the sides. A day after the paint dried,
Dad suggested we pull the “jalopy”
over a few hills to the new sidewalk
next to the park pavilion. So we pushed
the kart over to the park and took turns
driving but soon discovered the ground too soft
and bumpy, so he pulled and I pushed.
We were shaky
on how the go-kart
down the sidewalk
but soon the wind
whistled in our ears
and we spent
the day tearing down
that gray path,
our wooden sled
as we growled
I can feel the cement give in this brittle sidewalk.
The park sidewalk is long gone, my brother
stunned with schizophrenia, dead, Father long dead.
I always see Dad in the distance, his hands
alive with a cigarette; wind flutters
in his baggy work pants, his hair’s curly and black,
my brother’s smile wide as sky.
View of Saintes-Maries with Cemetery, Vincent Van Gogh
Not in the least how
wonderful it seemed
as the daggers of paint
wormed across the field
from dry departed rows.
Reduction creased against
the distant light
that came into view.
In walks from homes,
we stood where we died
and flinched at what
we had become.
We were led here,
given every breath
in a machete
of brush strokes.
We left alone and we
always leave again
and again until we
cannot recall the wonder.
MICHAEL CATHERWOOD's first book was Dare, by The Backwaters Press. His second book, If You Turned Around Quickly, is from Main Street Rag. His third book, Projector, is forthcoming from Stephen F. Austin Press in 2017. His poems have recently appeared in Bluestem, Louisiana Literature, Measure, the minnesota review, New Plains Review, Solstice, Red River Review, Galway Review, and other journals. He has taught creative writing at the University of Arkansas, University of Omaha/Nebraska, and Creighton University. He’s been an associate editor at Plainsongs since 1995, where he writes essays.