Kenneth Phelps lives in Washington with his wife and three children. He teaches creative writing at a local college and works as a freelance editor and proofreader. These poems are taken from his upcoming collection, Terminal Light.
AFTER THE GALA
When you introduced me as a poet
a part of me died;
I watched my hand fall to pieces in theirs.
People watched amazed
as I bent to scoop up my fingers
and tuck them in my pocket like pens.
But later, when I was alone,
I fixed them back together
and wrote to you.
DALLY; DAWDLE; DRAG
My girlfriend wakes me on her way to work—
she always does, she is angry
that I don’t have to leave the house and mount the gravid
trains. We walk to Central Station, gathering coffees
on the way, and being early sit
on the bridge in silence with the steam.
She begs me to work,
says she’ll find me something
—a sinecure with the Government—
but I refuse, and move the conversation on.
We watch the commuters, laughing
at the flibbertigibbets and the fops,
and in the silences we can sense that we will sunder.
Tonight, we must eat with her mother, a famous Doula.
She will rock and chant for us, and bury my head
in her farrago of colored robes; and for a while
I might love again.
I see you
with your hands
in a wide cotton dress
with a pocket
to keep a tissue
I imagine him kneeling
in front of you
head bowed like a knight
like I listened