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Three by Max Hjortsberg

The Garden Everlasting
by MAX HJORTSBERG

 

Waiting outside a service station

she noticed a woman watering flowers across the street.

The vibrant colors glowed in the morning sun.

She looked closer and saw

the housewife was actually tending

to thousands of colored flames

dancing in the breeze,

reflecting in the windows of the house.

She had never seen so many colors.

A feeling of peace relaxed her eyes

as she walked across the street,

gravel crunching under each step

like keys turning in locks.

She kneeled in that garden burning

until the startled housewife asked,

can I help you?

She awkwardly walked back across the street

looking over her shoulder.

What the hell were you doing

kneeling in that woman’s garden?

he asked as she got back into the car.

When we die, she said,

there will be a garden like that one

and all of our suffering will become

many colors of jittery light,

little flowers of fire burning

like a chorus of railroad lanterns.

 

Forever Afternoon
by MAX HJORTSBERG

She waited for him

in the afternoon sun

moving slowly across the bedspread

where she lay in her dressing gown,

the heat inspiring laziness

like the wind culling thistle seeds aloft;

her clothing could wait until evening.

In her languid oblivion of radio song

and ice water

she took the pen and inkwell

and on her belly below her navel

drew the jawbone of an ass.

A surprise for him

later

when she knew he’d want her

and wouldn’t ask.

 

Midnight on the Straightaway
by MAX HJORTSBERG

The black sedan barreled down

the state highway

pushing the grasses on the

shoulder over in its wake.

She was behind the wheel

smoking a cigarette slowly

letting the ash grow long

like a childhood memory

about swimming in a lake

for the first time

until it fell to the floorboard

under its own weight.

He lay in the backseat,

a look of wonder in his eyes

as he watched the moon

through the rear window.

It was nights like these

when they would drive until dawn

through the empty back roads

of America,

nothing but the sound of the motor,

the hum of the tires on gravel and

the whistle of wind

resonating like a prayer,

that the present touched the future.

Max Hjortsberg grew up in Montana’s Paradise Valley and now lives in Livingston with his wife and son.  He is the author of Bonnie & Clyde (An American Daydream) published by Finishing Line Press, from which these poems were selected.  His website is http://www.errantpoet.com. 

Editorial Note: (Please Read Closely Before Submitting)

To submit to Poets’ Basement, send an e-mail to CounterPunch’s poetry editor, Marc Beaudin at counterpunchpoetry@gmail.com with your name, the titles being submitted, and your website url or e-mail address (if you’d like this to appear with your work).  Also indicate whether or not your poems have been previously published and where.  For translations, include poem in original language and documentation of granted reprint/translation rights.  Attach up to 5 poems and a short bio, written in 3rd person, as a single Word Document (.doc or .rtf attachments only; no .docx).  Expect a response within one month (occasionally longer during periods of heavy submissions).

Poems accepted for online publication will be considered for possible inclusion of an upcoming print anthology.

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