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He loosens his work-tie’s noose-knot, ascending a staircase
climbing above our grey earth, fallen leaves clotting gutters in the car-park
where a divorced neighbor, half-lifed, drags on a cigarette,
smoldering time until her bed-mate’s pickup returns,
a faded T-shirt her smock, her hair a mess like a nest.
Exhausted, Ulysses stumbles into his haven, a two-room apartment,
having passed by the taupe vestibule’s Charybdis, its mailbox,
filled with bills starving for their pounds of flesh,
to behold as he does every morning and evening
Mucha’s print Spring watching over his kitchen.
Within this nymph’s bower, life flames eternal, a cherry-tree’s
rouge growing out of her skin, her bosom’s furnaced gleam
glowing through her sheer shift as blossom-crowned tresses,
a Promethean grace, encompass, though not consume, what is immortal;
neither hair nor limb broken, merely bent, under pressure.
Her mystique enthralls visions as he kicks off his shoes,
the stereo serving Holst like a sherry, Jupiter’s strings fluttering
through his conscious, stately poise and grandeur exercising restraint
for a movement; cheer trumpeting forth next with tambourine timbre
to chase after dryads, nyads, and notes, emphatically, triumphantly, grand,
a pursuit he indulges until sun-up, where, with coffee in hand,
he chars into embers, alone, Virginian and Latakian leaves,
transforming their death into a creamy, cool, smoke,
his pipe far finer than what the next-door Juno tries to quit,
their ritual sacrifice struggling to conserve what they cherish.





Photo Credit: Photosightfaces

Nathaniel A. Schmidt

Nathaniel A. Schmidt

Nathaniel A. Schmidt is a chaplain in the Christian Reformed Church and holds degrees from Calvin Theological Seminary, Calvin University, and The University of Illinois, Springfield. His first collection of poems, An Evensong, is available from Wipf and Stock. He lives with his librarian wife, Lydia, and their daughter in Norton Shores, MI, meaning life is a perpetual story-time.