Racing the Rain
First summer rain and kids scurry
fast and hard down the quiet city street.
Sandal-shod and shirtless I’m six
years old and somehow sharp enough
to sense a yearning between chaste earth
and brash rain. Dust and shadow flash
before me as I run. Cars parked
along curbs fleck with crazy spots
as drops the size of dimes patter
upon metal, glass, and chrome. Rain
refreshes the way heat oppresses, and now
there’s reason again for kids to stay outside.
The storm brings static, my hair on end,
electric crackle of elation in the air: first summer
rain, thunderous and warm, and through it
I’m running because my father is home.
We rush to him, all wanting to be first,
the first to tackle him, hug him, catch a helicopter ride…
I see him in the grass, shuffle
his mannish frame toward our door, our home.
Suddenly I’m racing him, racing the rain,
my brother, my friends, all of us falling,
falling ‘til suddenly I’m alone
shunted to my own here and now,
in the grass of my own yard, realizing,
abashed, it’s a race I’ll never win.
Urban Idyll: A Requiem
Clouds roll across my town, waiting
to downpour until they’re directly
over my house, my neighborhood:
the place in the city where feral cats
have their kittens, litter abounds,
and every house has broken windows.
In the mornings I look out my window
drinking coffee, thinking, waiting
to eat breakfast while kids bound
for school pass by directly.
They preen and posture like cats,
thinking they run this neighborhood.
They don’t. This is my neighborhood.
I have stood in this doorway, at this window
for twenty-eight years. These cats
don’t impress me. I’m still waiting
for someone to challenge me directly,
but I know no such bravery abounds
here. Not much does. Fear abounds,
but then, that don’t help the neighborhood
much, does it? I can tell you directly–
if more folks looked out their windows
and spent less time sitting, waiting
under their eaves while it rains cats
and dogs, maybe we’d have fewer wildcats
and this could be a place where hope abounds
instead of fear. I imagine I’ll be waiting
a long time for that in this neighborhood.
Too many broken windows.
Not that it matters much. Not directly.
The rain is coming sideways now, directly
through countless panes of shattered glass. Wet cats
flee with their kittens. How many more windows
will be broken by morning? Misery abounds.
No, there’s no saving it, this neighborhood.
I think I’m through with waiting.
Shatter the windows directly where they are.
Keep waiting as kittens grow to marauding cats,
and only rage abounds in this idyllic neighborhood.
R. Mutt Writes a Love Song
“Mythology,” was all she said, and I,
unknown to her before tonight,
went screaming down the hall.
Once there my room became my jail, (alive with taunts
and jeers) a bounding beast of boundless burdens haunting me,
taunting me, seething madly as though my vendettas were its own.
And yet I found the moment to be real. She and I
and we, alone, together in this room.
(Still it reeks of booze and blood and cigarettes.)
She wanted to, tried to, hoped to call it Fate but foolishly
I branded her a fool. She dreamt easily enough
for both of us. “Mythology,” she said and, dutiful, I wept alone.
When through an open doorway framed, the moonlight
caromed reckless off of walls, and somewhere birds alit
upon their nests to find the eggs they’d kept were gone. Broken.
And through it all I found I knew exactly where to go.
About the town and all that day we kept
a secret from ourselves, a secret from our flock: this moment
was a lie. She and I and each of us had known it all
along, but we never tried to stop ourselves. We never tried
to stop it. We never tried to stop it all. We never tried to stop.
Outside our broken town, a sullen train
laments its broken whistle and I take it
as a new dispute. It scars me
like the scratches from the birds. “Mythology,”
was all she said, and I, familiar to her
then, went weeping down the hall.
Ron Hayes is a poet, writer, teacher, and football coach living in Erie, Pennsylvania. Due to receive his MFA from Queens University of Charlotte in May of 2012, he was a finalist for Erie County, Pennsylvania’s inaugural Poet Laureate position in 2009 and held the staff Poet Laureate position in the Erie School District from 2005 to 2009. He shares his home with 3 Chocolate Labs, 2 teenage sons, and 1 patient wife.