Poems for a hot afternoon

It’s hot. It’s hotter than balls. I could fry an egg on the sidewalk. The dogs impersonate rugs draped on sweaty wooden floors. The level of crankitude in my household is rising to dangerous levels. I try not to move.

I might work today on my manuscript in the somewhat air-conditioned upstairs. Or I might lie on the couch and read some poems. Something about the heat kills what little concentration I have. One poem. Lots of spaces between the words. Time to think through the lines. Don’t let any of my limbs touch any other limbs. Too hot. Imagine being in other places.

In light of Sarah W.’s post, and our poem-off, I wanted to find a poem about beer. I thought I had a great one by Dorianne Laux about getting older and drinking beer on her porch. But I couldn’t find it. I seem to have lent out all my Dorianne Laux books because I love her and no one has returned them. Bastards.

Here’s a favorite:

The Shipfitter’s Wife


I loved him most

when he came home from work,

his fingers still curled from fitting pipe,

his denim shirt ringed with sweat,

smelling of salt, the drying weeds

of the ocean. I’d go to where he sat

on the edge of the bed, his forehead

anointed with grease, his cracked hands

jammed between his thighs, and unlace

the steel-toed boots, stroke his ankles

and calves, the pads and bones of his feet.

Then I’d open his clothes and take

the whole day inside me—the ship’s

gray sides, the miles of copper pipe,

the voice of the foreman clanging

off the hull’s silver ribs. Spark of lead

kissing metal. The clamp, the winch,

the white fire of the torch, the whistle,

and the long drive home.

(from Smoke, BOA Editions, 2000)

What are you doing today?


6 responses to “Poems for a hot afternoon

  1. What am I doing today?
    Going to a retirement party for a couple, WTF. They get to retire and I get to go to work my entire life. Maybe if I didn’t crank the AC so low I could afford to retire.

    I’m not into poetry, I mean really, I see the word poem and my eyes glaze over and I feel like I drank a bottle of NyQuil. But, The Shipfitter’s Wife, wow, sexy, love it.

    Where’s my husband he just mowed the lawn, me and John Deere. Like they say nothing runs like a Deere.

    • See, that shows you that it’s not poetry you hate, but the idea of poetry and its associations. Actual poems are sexy and awesome. Except for the poems that suck.

      True, nothing runs like a Deere!

      • What indy said about poetry. You just have to find the stuff that works for you.

        And there’s something about a man wearing Eau de Cut Lawn et Motor Oil that really works for me . . .

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