Fall 2014, Volume 17

Poetry by Christopher Buckley

As I Live and Breathe

I’m in a coffee shop off the 101,
fans barely spinning, flies stunned
in the heat of the window facing
the parking lot, and an old boy
wearing a black Caterpillar cap,
Dickies work shirt, dark jeans and boots
is working on a plate of pancakes
at the table next to us. 
                                I look over
as a little girl walks up to him
from across the room, and see,
as he turns, that he has a patch
over one eye, a bone colored scar
crossing the wrinkles of his forehead . . .
and, in her high sweet voice, nervously
tugging at her yellow party dress,
she politely, says, “Excuse me, Sir,
are you a pirate?”
                         This is California—
freeways, airports, urban sprawl—
and even if you’re 4 or 5, you’ve been
besieged by cop shoes, car bombs on TV,
school shootings every other month. . . .
So it has to be at least 60 years since
anyone was brave or blameless enough
to ask such a pure and reasonable question.




Christopher Buckley's 20th book of poetry, Back Room at the Philosophers’ Club is just out from Stephen F. Austin State University Press, the same publisher of his last book, Varieties of Religious Experience, in 2013. With Gary Young he has edited, Bear Flag Republic: Prose Poems and Poetics from California, 2008, and ONE FOR THE MONEY: THE SENTENCE AS A POETIC FORM, from Lynx House Press, 2012. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in Poetry, two NEA grants, a Fulbright Award in Creative Writing, and is the 2013 winner of the Campbell Corner Poetry Contest.