Peter Chapman Poetry


Everywhere I went, I found a poet had gone before.
-- Sigmund Freud

First there was that sunrise. Get out of bed, go see it I said.
She gasped, said lets go to the beach. Everything filled in.
The gulls never looked so good. They soared noiselessly.
The rays of the sun spread out through the clouds like piano music.
Aquas, pinks, oranges, the flaring daring reds.
Then the dolphin, springing from the surf. Imagine our delight.

Our last day, I went to stand under the old pier, so she could photograph me.
I wore my turquoise shirt. I love turquoise. The pilings were washed out gray.
The sand was a wet brown. The colors looked good together.
The ocean rolled in peacefully. The lips of the waves broke in rills of foamy white.

When you're young, you see the old guys sitting, looking a long time at something.
They don't move much, or make sounds or give anything away. They look
at a young woman. Later you find yourself, not old yet, but not young either,
not the way most people think, looking at a young woman, watching her shoot pool.
She's a little full, with nice breasts, having a good time. You smile, getting the idea. You
could be watching the old guys. Or the boys down the bar could be watching you.
There's no movement but so much is going on you can't get even most of it.

Folk idiom. Folk idiom. I want to keep saying it. I love it. Folk idiom.
Driving around with nowhere to go in the late November sunshine
saying Folk Idiom. Wonderful! I get high and go so far into the landscape
the last time anyone heard I was up for grabs.

Sere. Serenity. Austere. November. Seedpods cracking. Dispersal.

Folk idiom, she asked? What?

Up for grabs.

He remembered how that girl would walk down the docks.
"Watcha got in your back pockets?" someone shouted.
She actually stopped and looked back at her ass.
She didn't get it, and in Georgetown that time, she didn't get mustache rides.
She got enough though. No denying that.

It was cold outside and the hot shower felt good. As he soaped himself, he noticed he
hadn't removed his socks. He was shocked at first, having become more orderly (which is
not to say less conceptual), but he left them on. He started to sing and loved being in the
steamy shower, with the soap on his skin and his socks, now itchy and soaked on his feet.

Watch now. He's going up in the lighthouse with her. He goes ahead, she follows, in an
easy rhythm of noticing, remarking, climbing. He takes a photo showing the keeper's house
and the marsh and the islands, then takes another, a better shot he realizes, from higher in the
magnificent ancient brick lighthouse. A fat man pauses on a landing where there are no
historical panels or artifacts, saying to no one in particular there's no pretense for him to stop
there, a joke that rises and falls the lighthouse's 214 steps and 162 feet without echo or

They gain the top and look out. The sprawl of homes in the dunes is awful they agree, their
distaste bumping the fading sentiment of the fat man's aside in some way they won't consider.
The islands should have no communities save the deer and birds, the naturalist with burrs on
his pants. She tells him how it was 30 years ago, when her family came to vacation.

They climb down and she is taking him now "into town", causing him to joke they might see
a movie, walking a muddy track through viney, dense forest. He finds an old bike in the
tangle and removes a reflector. They reach "town" and he's reminded of how an island town
in Florida used to be. The lonesome magic of the place is powerful. Her devotion to her
past and to him is also very moving. He shows no outward sense of this other than his love
for where she has brought him, which we know she can appreciate and love.

What planet are you from?




Okay. You look great.

Urmgu. (Thanks)


So do you.

You alien flatterer.

Linda's breasts were loose and white with blue vein spidering. She told him James Dickey
used to grab them in class. He remembered Dickey in "Deliverance", how he called the
book "one for the prose boys". He was a real lech, she said. Linda came to see him one time
and stayed the night. His puppy bit her nipple in bed. Her car wouldn't start or she would
have gone home. The bite was nothing but she hadn't planned to sleep over. When they
couldn't get the car--an old Saab bearing a rag where the gas cap should have been--started,
she phoned a friend and told her what to say to her husband if he came home. He was in the
Navy, a submariner. When he got the message he phoned her, concerned, and ended up
coming to the house for breakfast. That was a weird one.

Now this lighthouse, this monumental Victorian stack to the way America once warned
ships at sea. Families lived there and lit the lamp. The dunes and dark sea and the hard
work of keeping the light. You would have wondered at a knock on the door. Events were
circumscribed, visitors expected. So much for this, so much for that. Life had a quality of
call and response and you didn't want to see a great ship burst upon your beach, though
many did on that coast.

So the poet's days. I keep my own light, and women part my distance. I'm their foundling,
their wayward appeal. I enter them as a beam unearthed, furry on the sand, downed by
storms of itinerant logic. Loving condenses the history of emotion, making new the interval
of blinks. Ships roam in. The sky watches (and winks) as the light foams out through the
jade surf. I may be lucky, but it's what happens.

He goes in the water, wading, then faster. The day is hot. There is no motion
to the sea. He recalls those movies set in the Greek islands in the '60s. The romance,
and the gleam of rosy light on the adobe homes arrayed into hillsides. Gauzy filmy
loving is done there. Listless beautiful actors in an embrace not he, or anyone he has
been with, is incapable of. The smell of love grains the picture. A dolphin swims in close,
and he can see a sign of some sort in the creature's jaws.

The sign says APPLAUSE.