Visionary

Visionary

The snow was picking up outside.

I could try writing without the candles
going but I swear, Em, I don’t think I can
write my songs any other way.

Then don’t blow the candles out,
she said. It probably wouldn’t be right.
But this man, do you have any idea who he
might be?

I’m not sure that He’s a man
Laura said. And then she was silent
for a while. She didn’t sip her drink she
simply gazed

At the floor.

Silences were part of their relationship.
The snow being blown against
the window was sound enough to make
Emmie feel at home.

But something did disquiet her.
The man wasn’t real. Laura didn’t claim
she saw him looking in through her window.

It was Laura’s aloneness, that’s what it was.

Emmie looked at her poster of Bobby, a man
she had never met
but often thought about.

Her parents were Republicans so
she wasn’t sure why she was drawn
to him. She didn’t think that it was an act
of rebellion.

Looking at Laura gone quiet
she thought how there were men who were mysterious,
men who saw things. In history class all of
the visionaries

They were men.

-Jeremy Nathan Marks

Basketball practice

Basketball practice

Practice could be grueling some days
especially when the coach set out to make
an example

Of certain players.

Lucky never had any trouble learning
plays so the coach liked him

And the fact that he could hit
a baseline jump shot practically every time
he attempted one

That didn’t hurt either.

But there always was a player or two
who caught a pass and fumbled it or dribbled
the ball off of his shoe

And the coach had high expectations
of his varsity players. There was one in particular
a center he did not like

He called him an oaf because
while the kid could read a play book he had trouble
seeing the pivots move

In real time.

He was always out of position
and appeared obsessed with being caught for six
seconds beneath the hoop on offense

I’ve seen about enough
the coach spat out in disgust and took the ball
and said if he didn’t learn how to get open

Everyone was going to run suicides
up and down the court
for a full twenty minutes

At the end of practice.

Lucky knew what this meant:
either his own knees would lock

or his fellow players would fill
the poor kid’s locker with garbage before
the next practice

Most likely both.

-Jeremy Nathan Marks

The male cardinal

The male cardinal

When I am playing
she said
especially when I am composing

I see a man
His face appears and the room
grows dark

She took a sip from her drink
and tried to get comfortable in the window
seat. She looked at the poster Emmie had on her
wall of Bobby Kennedy

Dead three years.

What does he look like, Emmie asked
and took a sip of her drink too
then folded her pale hands in her lap.

That’s just it, I can’t see him now
He disappears when I am not in my room
He eludes me unless I play

He –this man- is playful that way
or devious.

Emmie considered this
and asked if she still preferred to write
songs at night with candles lit

Laura said yes
and Emmie considered this too
while the snow kept falling just beyond
Laura’s dark hair through the trees

A male cardinal landed on
a maple branch and looked like
he was listening

Practically perched on Laura’s shoulder.

-Jeremy Nathan Marks

Eggnog instead

Eggnog instead

Emmie opened the door and watched
Laura brush snow from her black frock coat
and hang her scarf on the hook by the door

She had a mug of tea in hand
but commented that her mother had also made eggnog
Laura said that sounds even better

They went to Emmie’s room
which faced the street. Laura could look
out over the spruces in the neighbor’s yard
across the street

And almost see her house.

-Jeremy Nathan Marks

The diary

The diary

Her mother did not know that she kept
a diary and by her window

It was a small, red book
brilliant one gray morning when branches
knocked against window glass cold as
bone

The view obscured by frost.

She did not read it
but its appearance startled her-
it was so conspicuous.

-Jeremy Nathan Marks

Have tea, play records

Have tea, play records

The snow came early that quiet autumn
it was not an election year

There was a foot on the ground
by Thanksgiving and their neighbors
lit their lights the day after

Laura watched snowflakes gather
on the sidewalk when Emmie called to
say she wanted to have tea

And play records
while her mother dressed the tree.

Would they be alone
she wanted to know and Emmie
said yes, that Lucky had basketball practice

And her father was out of town.

Laura felt but did not say
that she could not bear a male
presence that night. Lucky was different
she knew that

But lately the things that she
had been seeing while alone and
composing

Needed a warm hand
to hold and be held and young men did not
know how to do that

Not now. Not yet.

-Jeremy Nathan Marks

Names

My wife and I have been talking about names and how you go about naming your children. It’s a funny thing to think that you stick your child with a handle that they will likely have all of their lives. In fact, the more I think about it the more I am struck by what a serious thing it is to name anything in the first place. It’s an audacious act.

But on a less serious note: