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Robert Lietz


Traveling Back

Traveling Back (2)

Traveling Back (3)

Traveling Back (4)

Traveling Back

     I put the day-miles in.  Light empties
over chicory and queen anne's lace.
The stillness, like a fault-line threatening to give,
condenses Time to automatic fields.
And the boys, climbing the mountainous
heaped waste, pretend they cannot see,
thinking to sprawl on top till they can stand
the confidence, or bouncing their balls
off school steps, checking the runners first,
they field the short / high hoppers
springing back to them, conceiving fields ahead,
remembering the cellar depths, a b.b.
fired point-blank, pinging the steel supports
just above a forehead, scaring more
than one of them.  The boys will stare down
sandwiches, wax the park slides
treacherous, stone themselves for entertaining
a little flesh, or storm the lot
beside the church-run hospital, through chicory
and wild carrot disappear,
to add their time in at machines, remembering
flesh, flesh-wounds, the good eye
catching a good look at the steward, the good ear
listening, catching the words
Time's pinched, the lips and cut of sneer,
practicing tough and flattening,
the world enough for them to bear, depending
a little more on luck than all the pictures
indicate.  Or so I believed, shook off ill-building
and belief, racing to meet State speeds,
nothing serious but lusts and personal excesses,
looking through love's collapse, looking
through all set terms and formal sabotage. 
But what's to register?  The eyes
of the immensely blessed turn hearts.  And Love,
cruise set, would grow impatient with the limits
aroused by moonlit custodies, by the longhand
turning the young men veteran.  I back myself
away.   The beans re-heat.  There's
corn to keep eyes on, and the grey-white stray
nursing her squint-eyed brood,
without regard for empire or referee, accepting
the waterbowl, dry food, the long
collapsible table in the crumbling garage,
litter by litter taking shelter where she can,
tempting the local kids to local
options with her young.

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Traveling Back (2)

                     Blue purse,
     blue wrap-around.  The woman
inches home to discount novels
on her glider, inches uphill into wind,
her dress, hand-smoothed, revealing
the costs, as if there'd be no end to it,
until the ripeness falls, and Love,
that meant to keep the children safe,
and shoulders like her own,
sloped from bearing all the local dust,
nothing to fax, blab, and not a word
about disaster anyway, whatever it was,
a thought indulged,
that got them packing then, inventing
the lively maps
to end some quarreling.  Chicory shoulders
spare the deeper blues
of memory.

                   And who could sit for long
within the presence of the beverage,
or mind the looks of kids
who never fit the pictures, unable to support
their being here, leaving these drums
and bass, these alto hobblings, a range
made versatile, revising one of any
of the cities on the planet?

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Traveling Back (3)

     An afternoon dissolves to this inscrutable moire,
to woods and swamp, burnt woods
and courtships drawn like crazy 8s, cut by this axis
bordering peace and ricochet.
I think of some by name, by referenced deviance,
of some, ascribing such perfections
to their corpses, however the old songs went, the chordal
fields of skimmed news
meant lives mined out of Time.  A people configures,
keeping dry, enjoying themselves these flirts,
this least coincidence, cats with radios, the family bathers
humming under shelter roofs, listening to the rain
and rain let up, tattling on their lives as simply evident.
Kids with kids step off in something like their bodies,
or pass their casseroles and wink, believing enough jackpots
for living on the planet, and feeling the late sunlight,
shaken over them, in its imperfect golds, transforming
pots and standards of utensils.  Long pelts of shadow
deepen over laughing grass.  And the living, turned by
indiscretions in the forecasts, go off in their numbed selves,
subtracted, singular, children bringing up the mix,
leaving their codes behind, in weather-grooved
carved wood, and the mind behind old jokes
the youngest hearts can scarcely get.

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Traveling Back (4)

     I follow the tracks so far then quit,
follow the crossblocks home,

     until the homes will seem some other kind
of country, no turning back,

     I think, in the minutes before full sleep,
before full waking

     leads me back to dreams.  To such rooms,
as I remember them,

     myself in miniature -- applying light coat
and coat

     to get the colors right, the sentence right,
idling among the hymns

     and prayers made severally,
until the construction

     lets us through, the decades of mother
-cargo / and quadratic chic --

     A mind, toughened to bear the romance
ahead of it, and the styles,

     like steady flames, inviting the children
into courtshoes,

      as if perfection needed them, as if the ghosts
were merciful, ranging

     among barred birch, in smoke, in light,
and -- having learned themselves

     this quarter-century of waiting -- returned
to these green futures in the story,

     finding the added life in sideshows
and more casual suites --

     assuming the looks of all of it -- from
the desired brick to the drainage

     where rats play -- reminding the boys
of stock

     and of contracted privacy, surveying
the land again, the landscaping

     and made hills, the looks of fields
the kids squinted

     out of rubbing air
for luck.

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Over 700 of Robert Lietz’s poems have appeared in more than one hundred journals in the U.S. and Canada, in Sweden and U.K, including Agni Review, Antioch Review, Carolina Quarterly, Epoch, The Georgia Review, Mid-American Review, The Missouri Review, The North American Review, The Ontario Review, Poetry, and Shenandoah. Seven collections of his poems have been published, including Running in Place (L’Epervier Press,). At Park and East Division ( L’Epervier Press,) The Lindbergh Half-century (L’Epervier Press,) The Inheritance (Sandhills Press,) and Storm Service (Basfal Books). Basfal also published After Business in the West: New and Selected Poems.

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