POEM: reenlisting

reenlisting
for Owen

I didn’t go home after the war, instead —
rucksack slung over my shoulder
ashamed of who I’d become
& of who I’d left behind —

I wandered for years
winding a course through scrubland
surviving on tofu &
the kindness of strangers

later still I rose up from the South
ancient ground of (some of) my people
ankles swelling in a cramped bus seat
beside the Appalachian Trail

I’d always hated Pennsylvania
swore never to live there
so of course that’s where the bus stopped
less than a mile from my children

now, though I imagine water
& gulls above the Atlantic,
I find the ground hardening beneath my feet
as I relearn the delicate art of balance

on a blanket in the park
on a rain-soaked Friday evening
I took the ring from your fingers
& realized I’d gone home after all

/ / /

Jason Crane
22 March 2018
Butler PA

POEM: Peter, George, John, Joseph, Silas, Henry and Tom

Photo of the site of the battle by Jason Crane.

Peter, George, John, Joseph, Silas, Henry and Tom

pop!pop!pop!

Pinkerton rifles filling the air
with smoke & screams & blood

pop!pop!pop!

men of iron & steel
men of flesh & bone

pop!pop!pop!

the ground soaks up the evidence
the birds scatter; no witnesses

now: the furnaces shut, rusting
mud colors the Monongahela

two robins rest on a sign
listing the names of the dead

/ / /

Jason Crane
21 Feb 2018
Pittsburgh PA

This poem is inspired by the Battle of Homestead, which took place just down the road from my hotel. On July 2, 1892, Pinkertons hired by a steel company murdered seven striking workers, all members of the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers. Three Pinkertons were also killed. Shortly thereafter the government used the state militia to bust the strike and break the union. The poem’s title is a list of the names of the seven murdered workers.

POEM: nighttime at the Candlewood Suites

Photo by Jason Crane

nighttime at the Candlewood Suites

here in this bounded collection of beige halls
where the men with salt-&-pepper mustaches

walk slowly in their Steelers jackets
toward numbered metal doors like monastic cells

stuccoed walls & half-used bulletin boards
with notices of faceless, voiceless welcome

the heater kicks on for a few minutes
then the room sinks back into silence

on the tiny stove sits a tiny pot beside
a tiny coffee maker that holds enough for (only) one

outside the window the trucks moan across the overpass
sucked into the night forever in a moment

/ / /

Jason Crane
17 January 2018
Pittsburgh PA

POEM: travelogue

11707376_459123200914408_376981300996427825_n

travelogue
for Irene

Delaware:
looking through the fake
plastic clock
with its fake plastic workings
ooohing & aaahing
at the insides of books

Bellefonte:
crammed in the back
of a distillery
new & old friends
still stuffed from
a fabulous dinner

The Bronx:
figuring sure
we can park here
I mean what’s the worst
that can happen
right?

Manhattan:
a short tour of the places I hold dear
then drinks on St. Mark’s Place
not far from all the dead poets
& front-row seats for SIMON
(some fronter than others)

State College:
sharing the stage
trying through a dozen lines
to make sense of a world
that too often tips over
into madness

The Future:
the fun is not knowing
no map, no GPS
just a road that looks long
but could be a mirage
“there be dragons” – let’s go

/ / /

Jason Crane
July 2015
State College