Literary Yard

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‘The Bridge’ and other poems by David Francis

By: David Francis

The Bridge

You were the one step further, you were the bridge
you led me out to blue sky from a ledge

I called out to a friend along the way
and I confessed to him my sorrow-lay

yet not wanting to burden him the more
ashamed of the chinks in my rent armor

I burrowed deep as any groundhog does
like Bruegel’s Blind Leading the Blind, it was

and talked of love and faith and other things
and contemplated right while feeling wrongs

blind as a mole and angry as a wasp
my wrath raged impotent, cursed with a lisp

and yet I knew that I’d find you one day
up against the wall where long shadows die

by instinct I approached, biding my time
the snail who sloughs behind its trail of slime

all everywhere I looked was yesterday
with poison in my blood and misery

and even God who shone from His lighthouse
in my fog I rejected his guidance

You were the one step further, you were the bridge
you led me out to blue sky from a ledge


The Laborer

We’ve come so far…I want to cross the new
bridge and walk the same road on a new day,
a day in the future with its own hue,
and I don’t mind the toll we have to pay.

Well, but you say you’re exhausted—lay off! —
and I must summon patience—from somewhere—
it’s anger and selfishness I must slough
for love—bear more than I think I can bear

if I’m serious about coming through
this black, black forest where I am so lost,
maze-like, clearing-less, with a blocked felled view,
laboring with words at right action’s cost.

I’m the one who must sing like morning birds;
I’m the one who must put it into words.


The Call

I spoke to her before she went to bed
and she did not refuse to take the call;
I sit here savoring the things she said
and wish that I had memorized them all.

“Go slow,” my racing mind says to my heart,
“do not frighten her with intense regard”;
but it’s difficult being far apart
and the softness of her voice makes my life hard.

“Don’t be afraid” is what she said to me
“of your obsession. Put it in your art.”
“I do,” I said, “it’s in my poetry,”
wishing, instead, my words flew like a dart—

a sharp bull’s-eye in the center of her—
which she wanted to feel as a lover.


The Last Time I Slept in Your Front Room

I knew the last time I slept in your front room
it was no good
because I spent the night in turmoil
on the quiet street in the suburb
of close houses and stillborn gardens
surrounded by the midnight-ending trains;
that enchanted refuge of patient loneliness
was suddenly invaded by swarms of
harpies and writhing coupling thoughts
that would not exhaust themselves in sleep;
my mind wandered over its misery,
floated upstairs to you and
across the fathomless ocean—in one leap;
once again somehow I had come to a wall
and on the other side of it was Time

and I knew that I could not go on
in this routine of hospitality;
in this trap with its low-ceilinged dawn
there was no chance of sleep—death to a dream—
and a certain voyage lying ahead,
one-way with its unrequited ticket;

too much was at stake and not enough risked
and you in your soundless expressionless
and a hug as tight as the moon is far,
now as ancient as the tears of a ghost.


Purposeful Scene

Late at night she came in from the other
room—and she was not angry or annoyed—
quietly, solemnly, without cover
right to the vanishing point of the Void
she came in like a specter, or kind host,
or like an angel I needed to see;
“It’s late,” I said, feeling guilty and lost.
“I know you’re in here feeling unhappy,
I hear you talking to yourself, so sad,”
she said and knelt upon the hardwood floor;
“I’m sorry that I made you feel so bad,
I didn’t know what I want anymore…”
Passive like a dream she led me to bed—
that when life’s way too much, leaves you rested.

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