The Tower Journal

Douglas Collura

A Sonnet for FDR’s Busyness

He rode a wooden kitchen chair on wheels.
Spent a year straining: one toe, any toe—move.
Unlegged walker clamping his son’s arm purple.
Out stared five bullets coming toward him.
Of Nazis, knew the Atlantic wasn’t enough
border. Liked being called “Doc” in Warm
Springs, Georgia. Twelve years, one month,
twelve days. “I have a terrific pain in my head.”

You and I will never suffer so long without
lumbar support, or understand the great
performer with his women, or feel world
beloved but abandoned or even his wooden
chair’s shame at being omitted from every
public picture for the crime of being needed.

Lost Animal at the Beach

The animal I wanted
Couldn’t get into this world . . .
I can hear it crying
When I sit like this away from life.
— Kenneth Patchen

Gulls cry in sunlight.
Would your eyes have searched up there?
A seawall separates
wet sand from white.

I crunch muscle shells every step.
You would have stayed
stuck on sand, spine
injured into your poem.

I recite it on this beach
too rocky for bare feet,
by this dark green water
warm and trapped,

challenging the outboard whine
of a slalomer knifing up
fountains toward shore.
Why do I savor the silence

I pour like sand
into the pause before
“away from life?”
Bottomless, raw edged,

an opening breath can’t bind.
Intimacy never
heals the poem.
Still, I’ve carried it this far.

It stands an instant midair.
Falls as a gull dives.
Boulders close in.
A small fire breathes. 

Reading Outside and In

Reading can mean ladder high in the Strand’s
narrow aisles, I listen to book spines, canyons
of echoes, suspended like a radio wave
oscillating between points of silent speech.
Can mean staring into the boutique once
the Rare Book Room, where I’d go in leather
jacket thin as a lady’s glove. Herbert Huncke
patted my chest, “I want to steal it.” Owl-eyed
Ginsberg sucked up noodles from a Chinese
bowl. Can even be me returning to my lobby,
electric doors opening, my doorman hunched
over the Daily News. His finger traces a line.
Lips touch every word. Not asking, “What kind
of animal does such a thing?,” because he knows.

A Response to Stevens on Library Way in Manhattan

“I do not know which to prefer . . .”

Preference? Innuendo. Not for beauty. Need:
The empty hydrant whispers, “Are you safe?”

Copyright © 2014 Douglas Collura
Douglas ColluraDouglas Collura lives in Manhattan and is the author of the book, Things I Can Fit My Whole Head Into, which was a finalist for the 2007 Paterson Poetry Prize. He was also the 2008 First Prize Winner of the Missouri Review Audio/Video Competition in Poetry. His work has been published in The Alembic, BLACK&WHITE, The Broome Review, Coe Review, Crack the Spine, The Cynic, Dislocate, The Dos Passos Review, Eclipse, The Evansville Review, Forge, Paterson Literary Review, Lips Magazine, Many Mountains Moving, The Monarch Review, Sanskrit Literary-Arts Magazine, Sierra Nevada College Review, Salt Hill Journal, Soundings East, Spillway, Stickman Review, 2Bridges Review, and other periodicals and webzines.

The Tower Journal
Spring/Summer 2014