Fall 2018, Volume 25

Poetry by Michael Lauchlan

Jury View

        “We call it a grain of sand/but it calls itself neither grain nor sand.” Szymborska

I’ve left the table to stand
at a window while peers argue.
A man is up for car theft.
Many stories down, the rain
pummels a rooftop, soaks bags
of mortar on a yellow scaffold.
It’s raining everywhere, drumming
shingles, bouncing in gutters,
drenching lawns and fields,
pounding the pitiful waves, and
creeping toward Buffalo. Below,
umbrellas jostle and cars send
wakes sloshing over curbs.
But for habits of motion, all
would lapse into a wordless strum.
The peers call for my vote
and I cough an answer, thinking--
when the masons return--
how useless the mortar will be
once the rain has had its way.

Late Returning

from moving a friend, I ruined
a night you’d planned,
one like none before or since.

One day I’ll forget that bleak
sequence when grief first
caught us in its sights

so long before we’d glimpse
our features in the teary eyes
of our children, before the deaths

of our mothers or our friends’ leave-
takings, before sleep fled.
More fractures loom

in the slurred future perfect
as worn cartilage crimps
our secret rites. Still

we keep resetting the arm
on LPs, keep doing our own
slow samba under kitchen lights.

Long ago in a stubborn wind,
an end began to unfurl
its sad, wet flag.

While Reading The Lost Land

Many nights, an infant arched in my arms,
colicky, inconsolable as hail on windows,

as thunder groaning from beyond the airport,
from a storm soaking fields a county away.

Years ago. Tonight, asleep,
my wife whimpers like a child
with a playground scrape reopened.

Our late cries rise unheard
to ceilings, tin roofs, and clouds.

The rain murmurs as I drop
into wakefulness to watch light
from a streetlamp fill a pitcher on the stove

and read Boland’s poems, needful
as sleep come to the weary, to those

who’ve walked a day a night a day
toward no chair, bed, or bench.

Outside a cat wails and I see it
once more, the tiny human mouth,
pink, enraged, and stark as a cave.




BIO: Michael Lauchlan's poems have been included in many publications including New England Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, The North American Review, Ninth Letter, English Journal, The Dark Horse, Tar River Poetry, Harpur Palate, Summerset, Poetry Ireland, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Sugar House Review, Lascaux Review, The Punch, Ascent, Barnstorm, Louisville Review, and (forthcoming) Poet Lore. His most recent collection is Trumbull Ave., from Wayne State University Press.