Monday, June 6, 2011

Metz is Alive for Now

Earlier in the year Scriblets featured poems on two occasions from a collection published in February titled, The Book of Men. By way of an introduction for this third sampling from that collection, nothing could be better than a direct quote of poet B.F. Fairchild writing for the book’s inside flap…

‘In the emergency room, I read The Book of Men, then hand it to my wife, who is wired to a couple of machines. She says, “Oh my, these are wonderful,” and I agree and think, yes, these are poems for the people of planet Earth, for those who wait tables in Juneau, Alaska, in order to buy a bed, who go off to war in place of those who send them, for whom gold is the ‘color of mold in the broken refrigerator’ rather than a smart investment, and for whom language crafted to speak truly and memorably of such things is a kind of salvation. In The Book of Men our recognition of a drifting world brought to the hard edge of meaning is immediate and enduring and makes us grateful once again for poetry’s capacity for rescue. I read “Staff Sgt. Metz” to the nurse on duty, and he says in a whisper, “For Chrissakes, who wrote that?” and I say, A poet named Dorianne Laux.’


Metz is alive for now, standing in line
at the airport Starbucks in his camo gear
and buzz cut, his beautiful new
camel-colored suede boots. His hands
are thick-veined. The good blood
still flows through, given an extra surge
when he slurps his latte, a fleck of foam
caught on his bottom lip.

I can see into the canal in his right ear,
a narrow darkness spiraling deep inside his head
toward the place of dreaming and fractions,
ponds of quiet thought.

In the sixties my brother left for Vietnam,
a war no one understood, and I hated him for it.
When my boyfriend was drafted I made a vow
to write a letter every day, and then broke it.
I was a girl torn between love and the idea of love.
I burned their letters in the metal trash bin
behind the broken fence. It was the summer of love
and I wore nothing under my cotton vest,
my Mexican skirt.

I see Metz later, outside baggage claim,
hunched over a cigarette, mumbling
into his cell phone. He’s more real to me now
than my brother was to me then, his big eyes
darting from car to car as they pass.
I watch him breathe into his hands.

I don’t believe in anything anymore:
god, country, money or love.
All that matters to me now
is his life, the body so perfectly made,
mysterious in its workings, its oiled
and moving parts, the whole of him
standing up and raising one arm
to hail a bus, his legs pulling him forward,
all muscle and sinew and living gristle,
the countless bones of his foot trapped in his boot,
stepping off the red curb.

For other poems from The Book of Men look here and here.


  1. Wonderful stuff. Nothing else needs to be said.

  2. Greetings from another Florida resident and fountain pen enthusiast on the gulf coast (Tampa). These are indeed note-worthy poems. Thanks for the reference, I shall read more of her work for sure.

    My best


About Me

My photo
Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America