Peter Chapman Poetry

Four Sentences of Good Size and Civility

-- for Ray

I began today sipping tea looking at silver water droplets clinging to the underside of my
sailcover, then went for a swim in the big pool up the road, where, at the shallow end, so they
can bob and flex, a class of women worked to the echoey boombox music of Marvin Gaye
and Mitch Ryder, the deft swarm of their scents twitching my nose as I moved up and down
my lane, then I looked at pocket knives in a hardware store, and when the clerk, a kid, said
"There's the huckleberry" I said where'd you get that and he said Val Kilmer (as I'd
supposed) from "Tombstone", so we worked over Val's weird oeuvre, then I went to a liquor
store near a small airport and bought a beer named Blind Faith and stooped to pick up a used
scratch-off lottery ticket, and just then two small really old planes (one red, one yellow)
vibrated overhead like mowers.

I continued my day with a visit to the dock where this old city meets the bay and saw a
Tahiti ketch rigged for voyaging and as I roamed I picked up a yellow mum flower near a
line of newspaper boxes and overheard a stranger speaking on the pay phone behind the
newspapers to a man I realized I knew who was asking the stranger if he could start a project
with him and the stranger, speaking in a thick perhaps South African accent said they were
waiting for the wind to stop blowing from the south so they could sail south, and if nothing
panned out down there, they'd "return to Europe" on, I supposed, the Lucida, the fine Tahiti

Then in a bar I ate a shrimp sandwich and drank a cold beer and watched the World Series
of Poker on television, and was pleased, very pleased actually, for my day had been going
well, to see the winner shown in a photograph as a baby in his crib pinching the Queen of
Hearts in his little pink hand.

The trail of dust is disturbed by the old soft shoe and arrow, the clank of tanks, the missiles
of sovereignty and occasionally, meteors and other unknown messages, all bringing me, a
languid writer bent on love and interest, to regard my days as cloth, which when kissed can
hang so softly, with such goodness, lit by windows of uncommon brilliance.