Meeting Myself on My Morning Walk and Cheney’s Cafe, 2 poems by Rodney Torreson

Meeting Myself on My Morning Walk

…..a long look up
into branches I’ll see him,
………………his blond hair
in a butch I wore more
than fifty years ago.

………..Where wind currents swell
every which
way,
……………..a tree where limbs
are bustling,
………….his arms around
a pair of branches,
………………he’ll thrust them away and
draw them back
in,
………………somehow getting
the whole tree

…………heaving
in his sway,
………………anything
for my attention,

…..his face
filled with sun,
……………his eyes alive,

his jaws wrangling
………………with a wad,

while below, on the sidewalk
……………….the sweet scent of Bazooka
as he chews on
……………………..my life—
maybe laying out a run

……..at the future—

as if it had not

……………………already
unfolded,
…..and my life
……………..had never
got off the ground.

……………..“Let me be,”
I’ll grumble
from the sidewalk
below,
but he’ll sit,
……………..waving me
closer,

……blowing old
……………..bubble gum dreams
that long ago passed by
my life,
……………….trying
to spur me on
…………………..with his spirit

……for another run

at it.

sidewalk cafe with red, white, blue table
Sidewalk Cafe by bill937ca (flickr.com). CC license.

Cheney’s Cafe

Already, at maybe 8, sitting in a booth,
I could wolf down a burger.
Doing so one day, I had to wait
while my mother chatted with a friend.
My restless palms—feeling out
the underside of the table—found layers
of chewing gum: brute sculptures,
which, when I knelt to look, included
pinker pieces, making it clear
that the layers were still added on—
still growing toward linoleum,
thousands of pieces, gum reaching
back to the bombing of Pearl Harbor,
and back a lot further to Model A’s honking
the last of the horses from Main.

Soon—with my own gum fresh
from the foil—my jaws were wrestling
casually and long: through
proceedings of a PTA meeting,
which her friend recounted
and discussions about a rug
Mother crocheted, I chewed,
and through lengthy reflections
on canning season and whether you
could trust the pleasing blip
on a Mason lid to signal
that jars of peaches were sound.
Sensing that my sculpture was done
and—leaning down—I grafted it
up onto that hard, ancient body
of work of those who came before me.
I knew, then, that I belonged.

Oh, for the generations of gum—
the dreams chewed out of them,
gum never scraped away, some pieces
maybe fifty years old and long
left for dead by boys grown
old, if I’d looked, one maybe poking
a cane at the world
from the booth next to me.


Rodney Torreson
The poet laureate of Grand Rapids, Mich. from 2007-2010, Rodney Torreson’s third full-length collection of poetry, The Jukebox was the Jury of Their Love, was issued by Finishing Line Press in 2019. In addition, Torreson has new poems that recently appeared in American Journal of Poetry, Making Waves, North Dakota Quarterly, and Paterson Literary Review.

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