Charles F. Thielman

Four Poems

Dark Boa

My lover will soon rise out
of her novel and help me

walk back inside,

injury sitting me at this balcony table
night after July night.

Solitaire by streetlight mixed
with moonlight tonight,

the 7 of clubs finding a home,
the jack of diamonds kneeling

on the robe of a black queen.

Down on the corner, several boys
are practicing their smoking,

kissing blue streams gone
from their streetlight pool,

laughing, test-driving faith
over angers past midnight,

my avenue long and sinuous,
dark boa full of gray dawn.

The Glimmer Robes

She sees vaccines and illusions
riding downtown curbs,
city night balanced
along the edge of a duotone slant,
moon pulling shadows across current,
spotlights revolving below a dome
capped with silvered contrails. Loss
tattooed on the wing of a dream
let to fly. She walks beside a river wall
to the peace garden, haiku in stone
rooted in nuclear war.

A tug boat plies upriver, lone deckhand
near the bow, incurable eyes sweeping
a rectangle of sky as trucks throttle
down bridge slopes.
Bridge legs collecting shadows
as she traces carved letters a mile
beyond the work-week’s spinal taps.

Tough to be solo amid these weekend couples.
Flaring colors across fresh canvas after
a wreck in the same town is hard work,
the promises given in that dream
echo inside memory.
She pivots away from laughter,
dank cloth of hot summer on her arms
and legs, gaze snagged
on an initialed bench.

After Rain, Portland

Tonight’s street theater in rehearsal
around bridge legs, street urchins

encircle a fire barrel while pigeons arc
iridescent, unloading over happy hour.

I take in the view at mid-bridge.
Glass towers blued as the blue thighs

of clouds roll across the burlaps of sky.
River hauling debris around green hills

to the Pacific. Lines of brake-lights strobe
down bridge slopes, commuters fleeing

cubicles, becoming consumers on
that freeway’s exit ramp to the mall.

Swing shift break over, I approach
my factory’s riverside door as another truck

backs into the shipping dock, dark cave
needing a refill. I flick my break smoke

onto a puddle of diesel, half
wanting to ignite a distraction.


She huddles into a seat
on a Portland bus, fire
scars on her Mayan face,
her neck, she clasps
her hands
in her lap,
the brown hands that wove
sandals for children’s feet?

I don’t know,
I close the doors
and check my mirrors
for in-coming traffic.

I do know.

I pull at the wheel
with tanned brown hands
and dust rises in the hot yellow
light of July.

Above mountains far south of here,
an army helicopter searches
for caves to rocket.

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