Two Poems by William Palmer

A Green Veil

In college I bought a Casio
watch for a few bucks,
cut off its rubber straps,
and put it in my pocket,
pulling it out when needed.
It felt good in my hand like a stone.

When I taught, before
cell phones, I imagined
a green veil
over the clock
that lowered when class began
and rose when class ended.

I wanted time to disappear
for students
the way page numbers do
with a book
they discover
they love.

*

Cleaning the Picture Window

The disease, I say,
is shutting down parts of me
like bedrooms no one uses
in an old farmhouse.

I’m less a man
now, lacking the stamina
to mow the damn lawn
or clean the picture window.

Sometimes I want to go
into East Bay past the shelf
where the water turns dark
and sink.

Kevin, my therapist, asks,
“When your fatigue hits,
can you accept it and not judge
your life as worthless?”

Later,
sitting in my car,
I feel as if an abandoned garden
has been plowed—

something is being tilled.

*

William Palmer’s poetry has appeared recently in Cold Mountain Review, J Journal, One Art, On the Seawall, and Poetry East. He has published two chapbooks: A String of Blue Lights, and Humble. A retired professor of English at Alma College, he lives in Traverse City, Michigan.

Plates by William Palmer

Plates

He stands in his garage
beside the pile of plates
he bought at yard sales.

He takes one and flings it
at the steel door:
It was snowing—a whiteout

the boy said
whose car struck his wife
as she opened their mailbox.

The man lifts another plate,
feels its cold shine,
puts it down.

He sweeps the pieces
into a cardboard box
with the other pieces.

In the kitchen he sits
and closes his eyes:
a small door opens—

he finds a parcel
of light.
He thinks it will not go out.

*

William Palmer’s poetry has appeared recently in Cold Mountain Review, J Journal, On the Seawall, and Poetry East. He has published two chapbooks: A String of Blue Lights, and Humble. Retired from teaching English at Alma College, he lives on Grand Traverse Bay in northern Michigan.