(for Kathy Hooke)
We gazed out the oversize, picture window
One gray, forlorn, late autumn afternoon
To see most of the usually pacific mill town
Parading down the two blocks of Main Street.
Cheerleaders kicked and leapt, vaunting legs, breasts, hair,
Chanting, wild with sexual strutting.
The one police car inched along, its blue light blinking,
The rheumatic chief smiling with glad senility.
Skinny football players twirled helmets like lariats
And flashed the V-for-victory sign like generals.
The marching band – perhaps thirteen strong –
Played some ragged, fizzy, pep song.
We had enough emotional firewood to last all winter
As we perched in our bare apartment above
The born-again electrician, across from the funeral home
And next door to the Democrat lawyer.
We who knew who Gandhi, Georgia O’Keefe, Albert
Camus, Ben Webster and Walker Percy were
Had amassed a civilization in our heads.
Surely, we could get this one down.
“Small town,” we said to one another
At night as we strolled on the playing field
Behind the high school, peering at the stars
That never seemed so white and faraway,
Steering clear of the skunks,
Feeling, at once, intoxicated and sedate.
Baron Wormser was Maine’s poet laureate from 2000 to 2006. At present he is living in Vermont. His most recent collection of poetry, “Scattered Chapters: New and Selected Poems,”is available through http://baronwormser.com.