John Gallaher is the author of the poetry collections Gentlemen in Turbas, Ladies in Cauls (Spuyten Duyvil, 2001) and
The Little Book of Guesses, winner of the Levis Poetry Prize from Four Way Books. Recent poems of his appear in Iowa Review,
Ploughshares, PLEIADES, and FIELD, among others. He is co-editor of The Laurel Review and lives in rural Missouri
with his family.
Three Poems by John Gallaher
Statements as Questions
Weíve been leaning toward people for years, out there
with our inside voices. Surrounded by hyacinth
and purple skies.
Iíve been meeting their gazes as well, pretty friend.
See it as an act of citizenship, with these neat rows of houses
under fluffy trees, as weíre full
of quavery emotions out here. And weíve plenty of fluffy trees,
they start from the ground
and go all the way up…
Call it education.
(Summer night. Blank pages.) And how itís grasped.
This park, say. With lovers
and crickets. A basketball someone forgot, back and forth
slightly in the breeze, as we have our knowledge
and we have our knowing.
Iím desperate to see you, say. Or, Call me…
Something is bound to happen
in the understory, among the palliatives.
For the little book of guesses, dark birds
against a dark sky.
I donít know how to comfort you.
Anecdote of the Field
The children are running across the field, each
Each on his or her spindly legs.
The fieldís a good field.
And there are wild blackberries to be found, large
red flowers, and birdbaths.
The windís kicking up behind them.
These children are running to run. They
to the grayness of the sky.
Their mouths are all little circles—Oh, they say,
there are so many places to be.
In the next field over, a house
is full of smoke.
It is nice, the children say,
to need to be saved from something
and then to be saved.
It is nice to have bright eyes
and to be running.
Reading Between Points A & B
The point called room. The clean,
structural lines, and the people in the room. The point called
shadows across the room. The power
of the one being looked at. The power
of the one looking. Shapes and planes of pure color
and compressed space leading to the statues.
Figure one, for instance, on the bed. And the equal solidity
of surfaces, the blue of the room, the early gray
of the room. The gesture, and you kept waking in the air,
your white dress. Your white dress.
How could any of us survive it? Where the world
gets in your head. The thinnest line of shadow, moving across the sheet
and breaking across the wall. The sweeping lines of shadow
from passing cars. We endure
with what we endure, and then these little moments
that we can rob from ourselves or others
spark us back into the window of the room. The point called
window of the room.
Weíre supposed to be thinking about the program,
arenít we? The way it starts and stops and starts back up again
with a new cast and what looks like, at first blush, a new plot.
And which ones are your dreams,
which the otherís? And whose chair is this? Whose
jacket? Whichever figure is naked on the bed,
whichever figure is floating above the room,
weíre pointing to the room all morning. Weíre practicing charts
and graphs. Figure A. We come together. We fall apart.
The point called your totem of constellations.
And in case you missed it, the point
of the point at which.
As itís cold, I will be cold, in the point later. The point of the point later,
if the points are infinite,
and time fits neatly into time,
like it should mean something, spinning off into the past.