Last-Poem, Texas by Matt Hart (H_NGM_N)

Dozing this afternoon, as I have

the last several. The light blasts in

through the blinds, though they’re closed.

The train comes by every half hour or so,

blaring its whistle to let everyone know. And Sarge,

the English Mastiff, one hundred eighty pounds,

sleeps in the hallway outside my room,

snoring bravely, the only sound in the house.

I wonder, could this be the last poem

in which he appears? I nod and stir, then nod

again. And the images well-up in a long flooded line,

a ridiculous parade that I forget almost

immediately, but for flashes, like in Coleridge,

only not as strange as Coleridge. All of them

explicable—explicable to me: Daisies exploding

from the mouth of my wife. Menacing shadows

with impossible questions—who knows knowing,

knows what? The Sex Pistols final concert

at Winterland where I wasn’t. The chorus

to “Doctor Love” by KISS, which Gene Simmons,

allegedly wrote in a Holiday Inn in Evansville,

Indiana in the seventies, when I was a child

in Evansville, Indiana in the seventies.

What a strange little kid. I think I was mostly afraid

from all the screaming. I had nightmares and cared

about other people’s feelings. I wanted to be

the peacemaker until I was a teenager,

then I was angry for a chunk of my life.

Now that I have my own family, there is

no screaming in the house. I’d say we’re all

happy. We’re lightning and light. Melanie, Agnes, Daisy

and me. But I’ve been away some months for work.

Soon I’ll go back, and it’ll take some adjusting.

The dissonance of seeing and living with ghosts.

Outside now, someone’s dumping recycling

into a bin, the waterfall crash of glass against plastic.

I’m completely awake. I’m the calm

against panic, the panic against calm.

And so too the Mastiff, chewing his fake bone.

I can hear his teeth scrape against it

with pleasure. I love and hate

dreaming. It reminds me of home.

– Matt Hart

Originally published in H_NGM_N, #15;
edited by Nate Pritts

Matt Hart notes in his simultaneously hopeful and elegiac poem,  “Last-Poem, Texas,“[t}he light blasts in/through the blinds, though they’re closed.”  The line invites us to determine in any particular moment of precise conscious detail which part of this transient image we ourselves are – the light, the blinds, or the choice for opening or closure. This is perhaps the very task with which we are charged in living our lives.   In arriving at “Last-Poem, Texas,”  Matt writes of his time as a visiting professor, when he was away from family, as “neither here nor there–thinking about endings and beginnings, being between them.’” I was interested in the poignancy of the poem and its overlapping physical and spiritual locations. The quality of passing time is marked by happenstances as various as Gene Simmons in a Holiday Inn in Evansville, Indiana overlapping the visceral impressions of train whistle and Sarge the English Mastiff’s chewed bone. There’s a bit of an interesting space to observe in the grief and exhilaration, tempered by denial and circumspection, which is inherent in this kind of cosmic punctuation.  It is indeed “the dissonance of seeing and living with ghosts.” – RK

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Rosemarie Koch earned her MFA in Poetry from Arcadia University in 2013 – the culmination of a lifelong dream. For her, poetry is an art form that crosses all forms, and is also a great source of joy – both reading it and writing it. She has recited Hopkins’ “Windhover” at many poetic and non-poetic gatherings, regards William Blake and Emily Dickinson as close personal friends, and finds poetry in everything she hears and sees. Her work with Minotaur’s Spotlight is an extension of her love of verse. [/author_info] [/author]