With this selection of poems by Anthony DeGregorio, we continue our new series of original fiction or poetry by writers who either published their first book at 40 or after, or who have yet to publish a book. Writers interested in submitting work should see our guidelines.
On the Bay
There are nights when across the bay we can see
Lights pressing the form of a certain small town.
When patterns emerge from shadows
Tracing lives and years, and a stillness
We travel to reclaim that
Children know. A yellow glow we now know
Only in our dreams and thoughts.
The invisible blue lobster boat
Bounces on midnight’s cold black surface
Like a bathtub toy from a child’s playful splashing.
While we sleep its motor warms.
A man’s wire glasses fog with coffee steam.
His father stands on the water
Looking toward an absent horizon.
When he returns the next morning
Houses are reappearing.
Lights inside burn yellow
Before breakfast, trace a path back
From sleep’s open salty field.
A bicycle’s loose chain rattles,
Rain water splashes
Over the dented sides
Of a Radio Flyer wagon
When a screen door opens at dawn.
On the shore’s edge a bottle holding
Something within its green curves
Slowly rolls, drifts out to sea.
The sky tears with color,
We caress pieces of sea glass
Carried home when we walked
The shore at dusk years ago.
Thinking of Anne, remembering the time we talked about writing a poem together watching the sun set over the river.
You said we carried dusk around with us.
Its burden that of two oranges rolling off a blue formica table
Angled poorly on an uneven floor
In a room we’d never entered before.
Rolling weight in fluid motion
Pitching towards the edge
In spinning descent,
Losing its essence,
To gravity’s whimsical influence,
To mush. When they smashed
On the ground
Open and damp,
Its warm skin bruised,
Its insides pulped.
I told you how I remembered a day we never spent.
In a perfect darkness conjured by closing our eyes.
You were a soft outline surrounding
Something purple like summer light,
Bright as moonlit midnight snow
Piling against the bedroom window.
I felt a warmth
Without feeling your skin,
Without you being there but within
The close dark breath of an empty cabin.
Later as the moon rose larger than the sun
We captured its width between your finger,
My thumb, as one might
Any piece of fruit
Before bringing it to the mouth.
And when we bit into it, rich
Warm juices trailing down your chin,
My neck, daylight broke
Above evening’s undertow
Into the dew’s phlegmatic din.
A seductively sweet viscosity
Drowning dawn’s salty secrecy
Filled my mouth.
Sunlight’s honey air inhaled,
Morning a joyfully sluggish slouch
Toward afternoon and then dusk once again.
Anthony DeGregorio’s writing has recently appeared or is forthcoming in various publications, including Nowhere, Wales Haiku Journal, Polu Texni, So It Goes: The Literary Journal of the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library, Paterson Literary Review, Light—A Journal of Photography & Poetry, The Maine Review, The Westchester Review, mattermonthly.com, youandmemagazine.com, and Eastern Iowa Review.
He taught writing at Manhattanville College for twenty years, and in another life or two or three he also worked in various capacities for the Department of Social Services, much of that time while also teaching at night. This of course after several lifetimes toiling at numerous jobs following birth. Mostly.