Two Poems by Gerry LaFemina

It Was the Start of Spring and Anything Felt Possible

You can sit there
on the bust stop bench like at your desk
in sixth grade, squirming
with not wanting
to work or else longing for attention.

Dusk the only bus coming down the avenue.

Ear buds broadcast the same five albums
you’ve listened to this month,
more songs about heartache,
more songs about absence,

so many such songs by now, it’s a wonder

anything more can be said on the subjects.
Lights appear in high rise windows,
bright yellow faces
like daffodils, how hopeful, how happy
those fragile visages

particularly in early April
particularly in a city like yours—
so much cement & steel, & still

those flowers for a few short weeks.


After the Divorce

That day a boy climbed
the monkey bars higher, he believed,

than anyone had before
because he’d heard the story about

the tower of Babel & had wanted
to be struck down, too, by god

not for hubris but for solace,
but even the divine didn’t seem to be

watching, so he stayed put
until night pulled on

its dark sweater with silver buttons
& the crickets began chatting in

their alien dialect, & the boy
became too frightened or too tired

to climb down even though
his mother’s call echoed

& echoed, worry italicizing
his name in her mouth, so

he let go, finally, to hunger
& the chill that crept from the metal

into his fingers; how he fell through
the steel lattice—despite

the foam layer above it,
the ground remained firm, unforgiving,

ungiving, & thus the warm air
in his lungs was pushed out

in a long exhalation
of vapor, & it wasn’t ‘til later that

we found, like flotsam after a storm,
his crumpled body, not quite

lifeless, but fractured
so that when he tried to answer

our inquiries while we waited
for the EMTs (we could already

hear the angel wail of an ambulance)
we couldn’t understand a word

he uttered, couldn’t even decipher
the shapes made by his pale lips.


Gerry LaFemina’s next collection of poems, AFTER THE WAR FOR INDEPENDENCE, will be released later this year from Stephen F. Austin University Press. His other books include THE PURSUIT: A MEDITATION ON HAPPINESS (CNF) and BABY STEPS IN DOOMSDAY PREPPING (prose poems). LaFemina teaches at Frostburg State University and in the low-residency MFA program at Carlow Univerisity, and fronts the four piece punk band, The Downstrokes.

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