After Living in London I Return To My Town

by Kevin Boyle

And discover overwhelmingly again there is nothing
To do here, except to motor over to play eighteen holes
Of green-felt Putt-Putt or just loiter around the new,
Gated community of the dogpark the city installed, imagining
A dog I’d unleash to smell the anuses of mixed breeds and mutts,
While I wore a Roman collar to fit in with the crowd.
Bless you, oh mastiff, Drink from my font, you schnoodle.
I can also have blood drawn, allow rear-entry to a colonoscope,
Work on my gingivitis during commercials, and shop
For foodstuffs at the Bread Outlet that sells expired loaves.
My physician told me to buck up after the rounds
Of antidepressants and stationary bike spins were declared
Ineffective and he suggested brisk walking as therapy. And so
I launched out, my wife’s jogging bra in my back pocket
As stimulus, my wife’s sneaks on my arch-troubled feet,
And learned I could walk to the Catholic Church for
Night mass in Spanish, I could walk to the post office
And have a PO box, something I have never understood,
I learned where the sewers emptied into the rank creek.
I didn’t know I had such easy access to two banks
Whose pneumatic tubes and drive-up windows I laughed at. I’m a walker,
I said to the night, I need not a drive-through, though
One was within walking distance at Biscuitville,
And another a little farther on at Wendy’s—perhaps
With more conditioning I shall arrive there and be able to walk back.
But for now, I am in the moment: I’ve never seen
Anyone else walking, but I wave at cars to help them stop,
I wave at people adjusting their tv dish above their porch,
I feel connected to my town, and somehow benumbed and at peace
As I walk through the cemetery, which is within walking distance,
As is a comic book shop and a funeral home which is often
Busy at dusk, and I have discovered where the city stores
Its fire hydrants, whose pipes go down about six feet under
The base that we see and dogs foul. Everyday
Is an act of discovery now, every day I’m getting my priorities
Straight as an old Roman road, but who would want to walk them
When there is so much here to examine, to conjure with.

KEVIN BOYLE’s book, A Home for Wayward Girls, won the New Issues Poetry contest and was published in 2005. His poems have appeared in Alaska Quarterly, Colorado Review, Cottonwood, Denver Quarterly, Greensboro Review, The Michigan Quarterly Review, North American Review, Northwest Review, Poet Lore, Poetry East and Virginia Quarterly Review. The Lullaby of History won the Mary Belle Campbell Poetry Chapbook Prize and was published in 2002. Originally from Philadelphia, Kevin now lives in North Carolina and teaches at Elon University.