Tim Hayden

Writers Abroad I

Distant Poems

Back Again

I dig a hole through newsprint, butcher’s paper
and finger for chips.
One by one, I blow on the hot ones
by the time we arrive home
the fish batter will soften to room temperature
and not pare.

I crack the car window open at Wollongbah.
It’s sunset, and the salt and sunburn pull
in cooler gums
At our speed they jam
and dissolve into yellowing paddocks, stumps –
This broken film slaps on its reel
like a landed fish
The End

Tomato soup
Toasted sandwiches
Pyjamas and bed: I refuse to bathe away the Pacific
and leave sand uncomfortably along the bottom of the bath;
I want to sleep between a set of waves
lying on my back, my toes just touching
clean sheets
and the atmosphere.

In Zurich, darkness comes from the forest.
I run its veins at speed
Foxes broaden headlights and deer edge the brush
My fear only drains when I feel the pavement through my knees
and village light halves
the high
leaves and mud

Yet I go there to get to sleep

then childishly dress without showering
and take yesterday on vacation to the office.

City skyline in the distance

My Distance

I take advice:
Slow toward the O’Hare toll booth and throw your quarter
then accelerate and merge before you hear the answer
Yes
No
Chicago.

The history of last miles also contains
New Jersey’s pig farms
landfill
malls
and some justice worth lining a ship’s decks
in expectation that you’re in

a place where they’ll handwrite a new name out loud.

A 20 minute descent and I’m at Immigration again.
Four years ago, the Kansas Service Center sent my replacement Green Card to my old address.
My wife says it’s lost for a reason;
the American Counsel explains that I am mid-Atlantic
comma separated and
May become a permanent resident
three times over

I agree:
It takes time to get things right.

Zürich, 1999

There’s Something Reptilian About Love

Spring avalanches were a danger
far enough away
to kiss …

Nowhere is safe these days.
Somebody takes the abovementioned photo
and our 1 year-old leaves it, 7 years later
on the staircase; a palimpest for discussion purposes only
We reminisce and swear by the last cigarette
before bed, Switzerland and from our back verandah: “… It is only the evening wind which tonight whispers distinct words …” by Hoffmann
inaugurating pines
shadow-played into panting dogs by a half-moon
we learn over and over
since learning is the only rub

of love. Squeeze hands,
go inside and hug.
The neighbours may scent our frissions.

Zürich, 2001.

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