Peter Chapman Poetry

living large

the tomatoes were between the garage and the river,
on a bench in front of the antiques shop,
with a sign saying HAVE SOME TOMATOES,
soft and warm from the rain

a guy stood down in a grave
so i spoke to him, thinking poems

he leaned on his shovel (poem #1)
he looked away (#2)
"this ain't no fun, i can tell ya"
i was disappointed to hear him say,
hoping for some Old Gravedigger's Elegy (#3-7)

but Billy took the story up,
remembering shooting people for the government
from a mile away, lying with spiders and snakes
"while they threw everything at you",
crawling 30 feet in half a day
on the weedy ground, never trees

the way he'd say "cone of shock",
the spiraling rush of a big slug
enough to tear a shoulder off, just missing, going close by

made him scratch and think,
then he went back to fixing my brakes

have a tomato i said
looking ahead to stopping safely,
the smooth mound tamped over the dead

in my dear town, of a summer morning