Three Poems




In the gravel driveway

beside the house of peeling

paint there is a motorcycle,

but it does not belong

to you. The bike is black,

a dragon painted

on its gas tank, tail entwining

a woman in fur bikini.


You are getting on,

riding down the brick street,

stopping at the intersection,

where a line of crows

startles from the high-voltage

wire. When you churn up

the bricks the other way,

our collie runs the length

of her backyard fence,

barking and jumping.


You come back

to the bearded man

in a denim jacket

who owns the bike,

and you both squat behind

the gleaming gas tank

to light your cigarettes

in the Oklahoma wind.


The bearded man is talking

about his trip to Montana,

his plans to camp

beside the highway.


From behind the screen

door I watch you

watch the man ride

away over the viaduct bridge.


When you come back

inside you rest

your hand on the top

of my head.






The water stepping aside

for my freezing hands

like a boxer working

for an opening,


the tile so cold white

it gives back my ghost

as a reflection:


finally I see it’s all

about the trying,


like us, my

dear, keeping up, year

after year, this Bottom

and Titania act,


you never letting

on how tired you are

of combing the gnats

from my long, long ears.


I understand Pound

was given to

wearing a bathrobe

the yellow of scrambled eggs

and to leaving bits of cold cuts

in the street

for the cats of Rapallo.


This year I might finish his Cantos.

This morning the sun was as nectarine

and speckled as the beach at Ramla Bay.


No matter what just keep

loving me.





Even we Christians know

it’s a serious matter, this carving

up of a living creature.


So, grim behind my safety goggles,

I notch the tree on one face

and make in it a woody, toothless smile


before turning the chainsaw

on its side and slicing though

from the opposite wall of the trunk.


Then the real work begins:

cutting the trunk into sections and splitting

each round with the heavy maul.


Master Chuang says Cook Ting

could carve an ox without

hitting a single bone or sinew,


working the knife like an underwater

ballet. I knew a man who could carve

a tree that way, but today


I am not that man. The chain stays

nervous, jumping often from the bar.

My maul falls too much to one side.


I sweat even in the cool of early November.

I had expected Father Hopkins to meet

me here, after I spent the morning


reading his poems and waiting for sunrise.

I keep trying to recite “The Windhover”

in my head, but you, Li Bai,


what are you doing here

sitting cross-legged between two scrub oaks,

leaves falling on your bald head?


You keep telling me to slow down.

Or stop. You say, leave

the wood here and it will split


itself over time. Or, better yet, leave

it long enough under wind and sun

and you won’t even have to burn it.



About the poet:

Benjamin Myers is the 2015-2016 Poet Laureate of the State of Oklahoma and the author of two books of poetry: Lapse Americana (NYQ Books 2013) and Elegy for Trains (Village Books Press, 2010). His recent poems may be read in The Yale Review, 32 Poems, Redivider, Poetry Northwest, and many other journals. He teaches creative writing and literature at Oklahoma Baptist University.