What I Say to You After Work: for Naomi It’s just a bad day, Darlin. There have been others before this and we’re still here, still breathing, still waking up in the morning to do it all over again. I know. I know it has to get better. It will. Let’s go for a walk and look at the maples in our neighborhood budding their fresh green leaves, shedding the whirlygigs with their veined helicopter wings. Let’s feel the warming spring Kansas breeze on our faces, let it tousle our hair like a busy mother’s touch. Let’s leave the smart phones and music players at home. Let’s talk out the frustrations and the humiliations and the fuckups. Let’s talk about planting flowers and tomatoes, playing guitars, grilling, inviting friends over, getting out of the house. Let’s stop at the corner where the redbud ignites against the greening grass. Let’s curse the dandelions but enjoy the yellow. Let’s give the bad day the attention it deserves, which, really, ain’t much. © 2019 by Shawn Pavey
Love Letter to the World
Here, in this season of dying,
neighbors, three of them in as many years,
spouses and nephews and parents of co-workers,
playwrights, artists, poets, musicians, and actors,
old acquaintances and classmates and teachers
with whom I had not spoken in decades,
all of whom I adored,
friends and family so far from here;
this list growing longer through all of my days.
It is Sunday in eastern Kansas,
under a wide blue and temperate
summer sky, cool sweat on my brow
from a morning mow, I am wishing
I am wishing I am wishing and I wish
for all of us, all of us, more time
in back yards, on porch swings,
around barbecue grills, in living rooms,
in kitchens, in coffee shops, book stores, and bars.
Let us speak to each other
over cups in which we hold
our broken spirits together
where we sip our beer,
drink our coffee, hell, I’ll even brew
strong sweet tea that we can
pour over ice with or without
fine bourbon on the side.
Let us talk of our lives together and separate,
speak softly of things
in our shattered and mended hearts,
tell such stories that weave us into a tapestry
of our larger, collected selves.
Find me here or there or wherever I may be.
Take my hand, grab my shoulder,
then let us steal away to a quiet corner
and enjoy some music or sit in silence,
together in this whole, big mess of a world.
© Shawn Pavey, 2019. All rights reserved.
Ladder to the Moon
for Georgia O’Keeffe
When it’s time, you’ll know.
You’ll see it hanging in front of you
as if it had always been there,
a hand-made wooden ladder
above night-blackened red desert hills,
its bottom rung too high to even jump for,
top rung reaching nothing
save the space between earth sand and moon soil.
And somewhere past this desert,
past every thing,
strains a music of cinder blocks,
choirs of cranes and car horns,
and towers in New York
reverberating a struggle
to reach only higher than they can.
If you can just see what is here,
then maybe a ladder will fall within your reach,
maybe it will carry you up
to touch and stand on a moon of your own,
to look down on towers of concrete, steel, and glass
that seem so small from there.
© Shawn Pavey, 2019
BIG NEWS! My “new and selected” works will be coming out sometime in May through Spartan Press and will be available online through Amazon and Barns & Noble. This is every poem I’ve written that I’m willing to let see the light of day, folks. It’s all in there.
Prepare for a barrage of shameless self promotion for the next month or so.
Photo by Jay Halsey, cover design by Jason Ryberg.
Lament in the Key of 4G
Out here in the Heartland, wind howls hot across browning grass and concrete and cars. We lose our voices; lose the sound of words we use when shouting above the din of our lives. Nothing provides comfort, so needed here – this loud life. So much to remember. We carry expensive dig- ital phones to track our appointments, send our truncated messages in dig- angelic text, take our calls, give us direction so we are never lost wherever we are and wherever we go we never escape; noise follows footsteps and driving and spending and working and working and working.
I Drive to Late Autumn, 1980
I drop a worn needle to a fresh groove
as Don’t Stand So Close to Me twinkles
into the cans of my Nova 40 headphones.
Here, vinyl gleams its petroleum rainbow
smelling of paradise.
I am 13 years old.
I am 13 years old
daydreaming of stage lights,
guitars, microphones, and the chance
that doe-eyed Denise Rodriguez bounces
in the front row of my rock stardom
with her long curly hair, exquisite silk skin.
She is everything lovely.
I sing to her and she adores me.
And now, gray-whiskered and 45,
driving a sedan on my way
back to work after lunch, I chant
Twin Sisters, 1981
Imagine a mountain in Colorado in black night of early
morning, late July. I am a teenage boy. Imagine a spray
At the summit, above timberline where trees cannot grow. A
boulder, hollowed from wind and rain, heat and ice. Imagine.
I sit inside the rock, look down on rivers and lakes collected in
hollows carved by glaciers through time. Sun crests the eastern
horizon. Imagine flame. Imagine sky. Imagine
reflections of sunrise mirrored on water thousands
of feet below.
In that place and that time. I am small, and immense, all
things and nothing. The only sounds: wind, breath,
the beating of a 14 year-old heart.
© Shawn Pavey, 2015. All rights reserved.