Give Now  »

wfiu logo
WFIU Public Radio

wtiu logo
WTIU Public Television

Choose which station to support!

Indiana Public Media | WFIU - NPR | WTIU - PBS

Noon Edition

How the Years Pass Until It's You

Read Transcript
Hide Transcript

Transcript

Poems build our capacity for imaginative thinking, create a tolerance for ambiguity, and foster the appreciation for the role of the unknown in human life. - Tony Hoagland

Joseph Kerschbaum has published eight collections of poetry and two spoken word albums. His most recent publications include Mirror Box, forthcoming from Main Street Rag in 2020, and Distant Shores of a Split Second, published by Louisiana Literature Press in 2018. Joseph lives in Bloomington with his family.

Welcome to the Poets Weave, I’m Romayne Rubinas Dorsey. Joseph what poems do you have for us today?

 

Clara, You Won’t See Spring (we’ll wait here)
 

Clara, you won’t see spring.

Your favorite season.

You won’t see blossoms sneak up

sudden. The world thriving.

Clara, you won’t see spring.

Smell of dogwoods,

 the thunderstorms

that jolted your heart.

 

Clara, you won’t see New Year’s.

A chance to start again.

Clara, every year you made the same toast,

“To my friends here and gone. I love you.”

Teary as glasses touch light as lips.

Kiss everyone in the room, even strangers.

Clara, you won’t see New Year’s.

The count down

will be the wrong zero.

The ball will still drop.

 

Clara, you won’t see Christmas.

You aren’t religious.

You are spiritual.

Clara, you won’t see Christmas.

You still believe

in Santa Claus or at least people

are rewarded for being good at heart.

Clara, remember when we stole the baby Jesus,

and put a canned ham

in the manger?

Clara, you feared no snow storm.

 

Clara, you won’t see tomorrow.

Everyone takes tomorrow

for granted.

Clara, our days are endless

and numbered.

Clara, you won’t see tomorrow.

Wake at sunrise

but never to stop watch it.

I don’t either.

 

Clara, you won’t see it coming.

The hair pin turn.

The black ice.

Clara, you won’t see it coming.

The tree, the ditch.

Clara, it happens as sudden as lightning.

Your heart jolts – then stops.

 

Clara, I don’t see it coming.

Clara, we can’t predict the present.

Clara, I don’t see it coming.

Instead of saying,

“Don’t go,”

I say, “I’ll see you later.”

But I won’t see you later,

or ever again.

 

Clara, you won’t see spring.

I’ll try to see enough for both of us.

 

Living With(out) You (dead starlight)
 

I wake by myself but not alone in the morning.

As if I weren’t there, you recount my dreams all morning.

 

Distracted, the knife slices my finger.

Mirrored wound blooms on your ghost of a finger.

 

Together we leave one set of tracks in the woods after dark.

Shadows frighten you but now you are the dark.

 

Been gone for years but I still love that boy.

Exhausted, I hate my love for that boy.

 

I haven’t had a chance to miss you.

Carefully we step in the graveyard over you.

 

How the Years Pass until It’s You (not all ghosts are dead)
 

How long has it been and who died then?

Time reveals her parlor tricks in our lengthening faces.

Ill-fitted suit, try to pass for an expired version of yourself.

Shake hands with people who have drifted to strangers.

 

Time reveals her parlor tricks in our lengthening faces.

Details decayed enough that we don’t share the same memories.

Shake hands with people who have drifted to strangers.

Begin with a prayer the deceased would have hated.

 

Details decayed enough that we don’t share the same memories.

Too many ghosts to count, not all of them dead yet.

Close with another prayer the deceased would have hated.

The habitual departure: yes, let’s stay in better touch.

 

Too many ghosts to count, not all of them dead yet.

Ill-fitted suit, try to pass for an expired version of yourself.

Unspoken but understood: we won’t stay in touch.

How long has it been and who died then?

 

Children Lost in Traffic (blood rush hour)
 

Thousands of chances in a second missed.

Our talking like rush hour, a dance of near misses.

 

Fenders graze like lips. A mangled mess

with one small misguided

 

turn of the wheel. A wreck with no impact.

Delicate as traffic, our tongues swerve and miss.

 

Turbulence rattling the skull, ears popping like cap guns.

A panicked voice saying, Please take your seat, Miss.

 

The wreckage stretches for miles.

Travelers stranded, everyone missing

 

their connections. This conversation

is a million-car pile-up, we’re all misnomers.

 

The world at a standstill as she waits.

Gridlocked clocks stopped, both hands missing.

 

Joe, your speaking causes accidents.

Your words are missing children who aren’t missed.

 

You’ve been listening to poetry by Joseph Kerschbaum on the Poets Weave. I’m Romayne Rubinas Dorsey.

Joseph Kerschbaum

Joseph Kerschbaum (Courtesy of the poet.)

Poems build our capacity for imaginative thinking, create a tolerance for ambiguity, and foster the appreciation for the role of the unknown in human life.
-Tony Hoagland

Joseph Kerschbaum has published eight collections of poetry and two spoken word albums. His most recent publications include Mirror Box, forthcoming from Main Street Rag in 2020, and Distant Shores of a Split Second, published by Louisiana Literature Press in 2018. Joseph lives in Bloomington with his family.

Joseph reads his poems “Clara, You Won’t See Spring,” “Living With and Without You,” “How the Years Pass Until It’s You,” and “Children Lost in Traffic.”

Support For Indiana Public Media Comes From

About The Poets Weave