The National Poetry Review

Kevin Grauke


Eliot expected so much of you, (Latin &
Greek, Milton & Dante, Ezekiel & Isaiah);

I, on the other hand, expect nearly nothing,
only a life wasted the same as mine, staring

at pictures that flicker past in the EXIT-lit dark,
a steady twenty-four per second, doing their best

to imitate galloping horses and couples kissing.
You don’t know Tristan from Isolde or Spenser

from Marvell, but you do know the slickness
of butter-tinted grease on your fingers,

the salted burn of swollen lips, and the thunka-
of a seat bottom returning to its vertical

position as you dash to the restroom while the villain
cleans his wounds over a grimy sink in a cold-water flat.

And you know the warmth of shared totems, too—
ruby slippers & boombox serenades, foggy airport

farewells & having what she’s having—and you do
because nights are still icy outside the cave where we gather

together for warmth, and these are the shadows
we now cast for each other against our fire-lit walls.

KEVIN GRAUKE has published work in such places as The Threepenny Review, The Southern Review, StoryQuarterly, Fiction, and Quarterly West. He is also the author of Shadows of Men (Queen’s Ferry Press), winner of the Steven Turner Award from the Texas Institute of Letters. He’s a Contributing Editor at Story, and he teaches at La Salle University in Philadelphia. Twitter: @kevingrauke

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