And here’s a couple who’s unhappy
Arguing in a crappy
Airport lounge. She’s listening and she’s not.
He’s trying to explain, not out
Of urgency but as a way of killing time—
Which is already dead. Their crime?
The neurons in his brain are firing at their full capacity
While hers are barely flickering on, thanks to the rapacity
Of his interrogation.
Between them, an absence is evoked, a quick vacation
Of the senses. Colleagues, lovers, friends?
Maybe all of the above. It ends
With a whimper as she pushes back her hair
Behind one ear. There.
And on his lap is spread the daily paper
With a headline and a date, the way a kidnapper
Proves the victim isn’t dead.
Beside them is a vacant chair, a shiny red
That’s like an ad for emptiness.
In front of it a briefcase. No one’s? Hers? Guess.
Like in a movie, it could contain a bomb
Or stacks of hundred dollar bills. Take your pick. Stay calm.
Gary Duehr has taught poetry and writing for institutions including Boston University, Lesley University, and Tufts University. His MFA is from the University of Iowa Writers Workshop. In 2001 he received an NEA Poetry Fellowship, and he has also received grants and fellowships from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the LEF Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation. Journals in which his poems have appeared include Agni, American Literary Review, Chiron Review, Cottonwood, Hawaii Review, Hotel Amerika, Iowa Review, North American Review, and Southern Poetry Review. His books of poetry include In Passing (Grisaille Press, 2011), THE BIG BOOK OF WHY (Cobble Hill Books, 2008), Winter Light (Four Way Books, 1999) and Where Everyone Is Going To (St. Andrews College Press, 1999).