Three Poems

by Keith Montesano

Pymatuning Lake Meditation

You’ve been driving for days, past twisted street signs, trees
              uprooted, roads pocked and gaping, everything swallowed
                     whole by night. But this escape has not been
       earned through mornings when the wind settles
              to a silence even your breath cannot impede.

For weeks your eyes culled shapes: swarming bats, gulped mice
              in hawk teeth, wingbeats like flitting eyes in sleep,
                     or what you’d like to remember of the nights
       when sleep came easy. Now, on the beach, your headlights shine
              on the water, wheels sinking into sand, the first rays already

gleaming out. A couple startles you, jogging over washed-up shells,
              tracks quickly flooding, sand pounding off heels.
                     They do not see you there, waiting, leering—
       watching them until, like the dawn, they vanish again,
              fading slowly past the pier, the darkening edges of the lake.

Ars Poetica with Fists

Midnight: over roads devoid of cars,
just the man’s black jeep cutting off
the boy’s. It started as a harmless prank:
stealing a flower pot, with friends, off

the front porch of a house where a girl lived
who all of them knew. But beyond the story
lies the song of a summer near dawn,
a continuation, if you will: not birds, bats,

or wind over dry grass, but soon, after
the others arrived safely at their homes,
quarter notes of the boy’s head bashed
against the windshield, knees skinned

on black road, right temple clocked until time
became something he groped for, slowed
like leeches seeking blood. But back to
the beginning: when they returned to replace

the flower pot with a parking pylon, they heard
a whisper: hey, you’re busted, the almost-silent dread,
the fright of four boys who sped away, confused.
They knew her father was an ex-NYC cop

but didn’t know he would later tail the boy
who was driving, brights glaring bluntly
in the rearview mirror, inches from the bumper,
the jeep harshly swerving, almost into him,

cutting him off on Mehard Road. He thinks
he’s going to die, frozen alone in the front seat.
Then, with arms bulging, the man pulls the boy out,
wraps his left arm around the neck, eighth-note fists

pounding into right temple, skin bruising out
before air’s choked out : sir after sir after sir,
listening to lectures on property rights,
those he murdered in Harlem: I’ve snapped necks before,

I can do it again. And as your life becomes only
that longing to hold on, it’s hard to think of anything
but how you listen—the point where tone
and the music of your voice converge, and start to matter.

Elegy for the Last Hotel in America
Mooresville, North Carolina

You must be hungry. In fact, you must be starving.
Here, in this room, someone once told you of the sea,

the abundance of sand. Someone once told you
of the world outside, until you cut your palms

repairing glass that could not be repaired.
Before, you claimed its rooms, kicked its doors

off hinges. Now the nights are blank, unremembered,
unfulfilled. But at first you loved, you lived

between daylight and nightfall, laughed
first at stories, at the rain whipping in,

the End in fire, bulldozers, wrecking balls.
And now you’re still here, cradled like children

in this last hotel: the gears whining, ignited,
flames lashing through the paper-thin walls.