John Domini Online

Another poem from John's chapbook The Grand McLuckless Road Atlas.

Memorial Weekend Conference

Past master at covering tracks,
she keeps the leaflets by the kitchen vase,
her husband reads and nods, she flags

the calendar, career day, seminar –
whatever, honey. Nods herself,

with pen-hand raised, while colors
off the widescreen flake the gold
around one finger. Broad daylight when she

sweeps up the other. He's the worried one,
avoiding glances drawn like daisy-heads

that turn when trucks gun past. She'll take the slow
way to the Con, pick Midwest glacial scabs.

Near-summer, they're near-liftoff.
They loop the hills, the puckered orchard sprigs,
and swerve past signboards, one hand clapping:

Farm-Fresh. U-Pick. Cords Wood, Weathered.
The letters fade while sun ignites sap-treacle.

She's got a notion she should share her past.
…now take that downhill, there was Aunt Grunnerz,
you'd think she was the witch from Grimm,

the trap-door candy-coated… He's
okay with this, he knows the trick. Such talk

perfumes the guilt; the kidstuff scatters tongues
of rose around a sickbed. His turn? Hmm.

Those crates for apples, slatted, foursquare, you
can't find 'em anymore… Suddenly
he's failing, choking. He's blanking. Can't
recall the countryside of childhood! Wait –
Vermont? Blue Ridge? Or Northern Cal, moraines
like these, and loam, and wine and maryjane…

What buzz has he got on, to leave him like
that fledgling buzz out there, the hatchling flies,

those tin bits cruising spit-slick roadside webs?
What chaos lurks across the next state line?
Conventiongoers, up ahead,

will couple them. Their room might leaf into
what's under wraps, harvest burst free of time –

it might. No way to know until you taste.
Arrival. Registration. Name.

Contact John Domini

John is always glad to hear from readers and thinkers: john at johndomini dot com.

He has won awards in all genres, with fiction in Paris Review and non-fiction in The New York Times. The Times praised his work as "dreamlike... grabs hold of both reader and character," and Alan Cheuse, of NPR's "All Things Considered," described it as "witty and biting."

John's grants include an NEA Fellowship and an Iowa Major Artist Award. He has taught at Harvard, Northwestern, and elsewhere, and makes his home in Des Moines.

Photo credit: Camille Renee.