three working class poems

by dm gillis

You’ll notice that these are ‘old’ poems, written in the nineties. It never occurred to me then that I would ever grow as old as I have. I didn’t believe I’d die first. (For the record, I’m now 53.) I just didn’t have the imagination or experience to conclude that I’d be changed by the further passing of time, or that what was accepted as the totality of history then could be augmented by still more history. Then came 9/11, among other things, and the concentration of worldwide wealth into fewer and fewer hands. I was angry in the nineties, but I’m angrier now. These poems seem so innocent.

remembering the B-52 (1997)

I have spent most of this
life watching the
shimmering axis ripple
through the core of
mushroom clouds old
WWII surplus vaporized
along with cut out suburbs of
mannequin mothers
worrying over evening meals
duck & cover babies resurfacing as
duck & cover boomers
calling up the shimmering axis on
cell phones while
negotiating 24 hour
rush hour days believing the
same insanities their
fathers packed for lunch &
carried home in six-packs

I have anticipated the resurrection &
considered its flaws the
vacant stare there
are problems with this plan there is
eternity to ponder & our
television attention spans our
Ritalin soaked anatomies spread
across the surface of our
nefarious rain soaked cities watching
the distance decay to half melting evening
crawling toward surrender & night
the tender protein of women coiling
round an electric conduit of fear

I remember the B-52
children like gentle inquisitors
moonfaced staring up
at vapour trails guessing
at the mercury pinprick I
remember its shadow made so
diffused by altitude it
scarcely kissed this cheek with its
dry hint of malevolence I
blinked innocently at the sun &
the summer vacation blue
of the August sky

heroes three (1995)

for you there are
Jack Daniel’s from a paper bag &
your androgynous sons to mock

here finally is summer &
you near death for
the sake of a quarter section of wheat
your iron armour John Deere green &
you the organic harbour of
soul memory & fear
pink in the sun
outsmarting bankers weeds & creation
before dry wind
your family burdened
with awkward humiliation

heroes two (1992)

cloaked as peasant

quiet genius
swimming in icy Coca-Cola
smoking French tailor mades
lifting the skirts of fast walking steno girls
provided for

today Asimov is dead the
news is piped in like cool contaminated air
Muslim guerrillas occupy a Baltic Holiday Inn
(hol-i-day: a holy day)

in his panic god
looks to us for example
his counterfeits his