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p o e m s m i k e  c h a s a r

Four Poems

The Good Life


Each beach—the white band of sand, the long, thin

final edge of land—

is neither as long,

nor as white, nor as final as I’d first planned.  I thought


that it would stretch as far as the eye could see

(my opus, my work,

 my legacy).  But no,

just as the sand’s not as white as it might be—


sullied by seaweed and shells and stones and bones

and other things the world

has hurled at me—

so it seems that my beach is always within eye’s reach


and that someone else’s shore, furthermore, is better,

their sand’s more fine

or it’s just simply wetter

in the end than mine.  And with the way the waves


keep changing the work I’ve done, there’s barely time

to drop in a whine

 or to simply go on out and tan.

Smoky, what is this ‘good life’?  I’m so unsure that this


is the shore I set out to build way back when when I began.

Foxhole Friendship


Freddy Freddy Freddy Freddy Freddy.  The closer the end

the fewer the friends.  Oh

I contend we all

drift apart lose touch get so busy have too many other


things to do (let’s not pretend) that sooner or later,

your division divides

(though no one intends it).

Sooner or later the phone calls stop and the letters dry,


no one expresses a genuine interest in ‘just stopping by.’

So what do we do?

When ‘bro’ turns to ‘friend,’

and ‘friend’ becomes ‘bud’ and ‘bud’ ‘a guy I once knew,’


we just let it go—we surrender the foxholes and fronts,

the gusto, grief and growth.


At Christmas we muster an echo of each other’s hellos


’til time and distance and death cap the rest of the game.

When one of us dies

the other’s left asking,

“Now what was his name?  What was.  His.  Name.”



I did one small step of the Cajun two-step and I knew

that I was made for both

this Cajun style of life

as well as the style of life I’ve spent all these years


shaking and baking with you.  When last we spoke

I left with a sigh

and one prolonged

choked-up and snowy wintertime goodbye.  But I


haven’t spoiled for eating the crawfish boiled, nor

(I have to say)

for all the gumbo jumbo,

nor for downing the breakfasts of biscuits and grits


and creamy-rich, stop-my-heart, crawfish etouffé.

But that one single step

of the Cajun two-step

I danced in Breaux Bridge, Lafayette and New Iberia


has left me in the numbing cold of a brand new Siberia.

Smoky, I need me a lead,

a reciprocal heart—or,

even better, I think, the second step of a lifelong partner.

The Sheep


Remember:  the bite of the howling wind makes thin

the fullest of wool

and meek sheep leap bleating

from all of their too-cold, toehold strongholds as you


leapt bleating from me.  Remember how

the heat-seeking hooves

rattle floors and doors

and windows and roofs?  And remember how down-


town blanches faced with such unplanned avalanches?

Remember the riot,

the sudden break

in the reading room quiet, the terrible hubbub as they


break in and repose on the living room carpet like hay?

Remember, Fred,

when everything’s said,

when this woolly stampede and its cleanup are through,


winter is never fully the wolf that it seems at the time.

This is what hindsight will do:

I will wait

in the hills like an armchair and keep a light on for you.

End Cap


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