For This Life, We'll Be Serving
Meat Loaf and Mashed Potatoes
Do you think youíre the only one
ever plunged into the dark
on a long train ride?
Soon enough the lights blink back on,
new people settle into nearby seats:
a man staring past his newspaper,
a woman chewing red grapes and regret.
Look out the window.
Itís the same old scrubbed-skillet sky,
raining on lovers and lonely alike.
Be patient. Your heart will stop
its slavish thumping
like the tail of a dog by the door.
Love almost always ends this way.
Watch the mountains
disappear past the window.
Summon the waiter
for meat loaf and mashed potatoes
and more than a little bourbon
to wash it all down.
Youíd like to lie across the tracks
at the next station, but this is not
an old movie, thereís no hero
to scoop you up. That nonsense
is what landed you here.
Hurry and pick yourself up
-- it is enough right now
to eat and drink
and save your own life.
What Holds Me Up
My arms ache from the clutch
of handlebars, gravel crunches
like candy as my father runs behind me
down the alley, fingers hooked
under my bicycle seat.
Turning, I see heís dropped back,
nothing holds me up
but a fountain of air.
Faith. Such foolishness.
The ground flies up again.
Mike and Julie stand on their swings
to gawk. Iím entertainment
to be counted on,
like Captain Kangaroo with Cheerios,
fireflies in jars after dark.
Dad wipes my face, slick with shame,
from the pastry of my knee.
That night in a dream I circle the block,
wobbly then steadier, my ride so real
I awaken with hair wild from wind
and order my sleeping family
outdoors. Stunned, they do as I say,
shuffle in slippers onto the frosty grass.
They donít even yawn
as I climb on my blue bike
in panda pajamas
and glide away,
the simplest thing Iíve ever done,
the most spectacular,
clouds bandaging the sky
as I pedal past
one two five ten
white houses with teetering porches.
They will fall
before I do.
©2005 by Terry Godbey
Terry Godbeyís poetry has appeared in Poet Lore, Rosebud, Primavera, Potomac Review, CALYX Journal, and Slipstream. She won first prize in the Writers Contest of the Mount Dora Festival of Music and Literature in 2005 and 2004. She is a copy editor at the Orlando Sentinel. See more of her work at her Web site.