Green Mountain Falls
In the picture, that’s my old man (deceased)
standing beside his old man (deceased).
Green Mountain is behind them;
the falls rush overhead.
The little boy is holding his first .22.
My grandfather stands stiffly, elbow cocked,
like a vacationing farmer
(which in fact he was).
The boy is maybe eight and wearing knickerbockers
gathered just below the knees.
Uniformed like a pint size Lou Gehrig,
he will have long forgotten them
by the time he rounds third base
and slides into the crematorium 85 years later.
But I have the picture to prove it.
Grandpa was a sober man, a Gideon
with a pocket full of gospel tracts.
You can’t see them in the picture.
But they’re there. Trust me.
If you couldn’t love him, that was OK.
At least he’d save you. The same way God did
when his stiff arms wrapped around you.
When my daughter was four and playing
in the old boy’s sprinkler,
he dried her off with paper towels.
Scrubbed her until the paper curled
and her skin turned red;
as red as the words of Jesus in his New Testament.
No sense in wasting a good bath towel on a four-year old.
And poor kid, she never forgot it. My dad was there too.
Though he looked away with the same queasy visage
of the boy in the picture. Not quite knowing
what to say or do. Probably wondering in the end
who would save her and what kind of economy
pinched life into such a small frame.
And what that picture would look like
sitting on the mantle
85 years down the road.
You’ve never seen it like this.
Not since the Muses closed up shop.
No Land Rovers or Audis–
only piebald donkeys
with bearded grandmas
and a few peasant carts.
Magpies diving at a crust or two,
and all the houses teetering on the brink.
Orpheus scrammed a long time ago,
right after the springs dried up.
Packed his bags and hit the road,
another soulful émigré
with another mournful song.
Tends bar now in Milwaukee
and sings to drunks on Karaoke night.
Tired old hags at the end of the bar,
always tempting him to look back,
a bunch of seedy has-beens
trilling off key, trying to get
him to pick up the thread–
just where he left off.
What the Handcart Said to the Tollbooth Attendant
for Marlon Fick
My wife remembers growing up in Old Beirut
where there was an ice skating rink
in the basement of the Bristol Hotel
and Sister Grazia of the Italian Girl’s School
warned them about the special dangers
of Italian boys and drinking too much beer.
Muslim, Christian, Druze, Jew,
all skated merrily on the same thin ice,
shaved so tenderly by the only Zamboni
in the Levant.
There were daytime shopping trips
to Damascus for table linens,
surfing south of Beirut,
and the good guys all spoke French.
History has other ironies, of course:
Sergeant John C. Woods,
“The Hangman of Nuremeburg”,
while repairing a power line in 1950;
Sir Laurence Olivier demanding
on his deathbed to watch The Simpsons;
and tourists taking selfies at Auschwitz.
But because there’s more to life
than Holocaust Museums,
I’ve decided to leave Hell behind
and return to Paradise,
a world as improbable
as a bleeding oyster
or a free sample pack of catheters.
A world in which the sun rises
only to swagger across the heavens,
drafting behind God’s wheelchair
while the rest of us loll
in the cellphone parking lot–
and the only question
worth answering is:
“If I was a beggar,
what would my sign say?”
O ye of little faith, do free range chickens
really meet a better end?
In Gunsmoke, when Miss Kitty
took a cowboy upstairs,
everyone knew where they were going.
D.G. Geis lives in Houston, Texas. He has an undergraduate degree in English Literature from the University of Houston and a graduate degree in philosophy from California State University. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Fjords, Memoryhouse, 491 Magazine, Lost Coast, Blue Bonnet Review, and The Broadkill Review among others. He will be featured in a forthcoming Tupelo Press chapbook anthologizing 9 New Poets and is winner of Blue Bonnet Review’s Fall 2015 Poetry Contest. He is editor-at-large of Tamsen and a finalist for both The New Alchemy (University of Alaska) and Fish Prizes (Ireland).