Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, LANA, by HAYDEN CARRUTH



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First Line: Last night I dropped in at the concord
Subject(s): Crime & Criminals


Last night I dropped in at the Concord
-- out on Erie? You
know it, like all the other joints
along the strip there, glucose

and styrofoam, but it's Greek
and they got baklava
that Lana likes -- that's Lana Schombauer
-- so I'm there a

good many times already. God
knows I've looked at that same
painting on the wall enough, in
that shiny fake-gold frame,

only of course it's not a painting
but one of those reproductions
they do now with the raised
up surfaces, like so,

to make it look like brushstrokes. Made
me think of '52
when the wife drug me all over
half of Paris to scrutinize

all those pictures. Should have
done it years earlier
when we were young enough to learn
something. Well, you don't perfect

your sensibilities in
law school, I can vouch for
that. Yuh, I'm a lawyer. Or I
was. Got what they call torpedoed,

being a bit too close
to the politics of
the business. Busted and disbarred.
Sure, it was undercover,

so to speak, but I had to
take the fall. I didn't
deserve it, but who does? -- and maybe
it's not important --

I did my time down in Ossining,
and whatever you've
heard about life in the joint you
can double it and move

it on up to the fifth power --
in spades. So get through and
out, o.k.? I did it. Survived.
I give myself a hand

for that, though that wasn't the worst.
You know what it's like being
disbarred? It's like they threw you
out of everything, declared

you persona non grata
in the whole world. I get
by, the boys take care of me, a
clean check each week, it's better

than social security,
and sure, they know I took
a bum rap, but that's not the
only reason they look

out for me. They do it because
they like me, they can talk
to me, and we're all scared together.
So there I am gawking

at this picture out at the
Concord, and it's flashy,
cheap, I know enough to know that,
too bright, colors like neon

signs. You know? You've seen the same
in half the feeding joints
in America. It's a scene
with a buck, fourteen points,

standing next to a frozen stream
with snow everywhere, some
white birches, a mountain in the
background, a platinum

sky with a trace of pink like a
real winter sunset. Awful,
nobody would hang it on
their wall, even a lawyer.

But then all of a sudden
I saw it for real, out
of its frame, just like I saw it
once hunting, up about

five, six miles above Old Forge, beautiful,
so beautiful
I couldn't move and the buck broke
and jumped off, gone doubletime

through the birches and firs, puffs
of snow drifting down, and
I didn't even mind, I just
looked and kept looking, standing

until it was near dark and
my feet near frozen. But
if that was beautiful, how come
the picture is so utterly

ugly? They're the same, I
tell you. Well, the picture
lacks something, don't ask me what. Then
Lana. I looked at her

gray hair and wrinkled face, and all
of a sudden I saw
like an aura around her she
was so beautiful, clawing

her napkin to wipe the honey
off her mouth, she was
beautiful, she was -- but I can't
describe her now because

already I can't remember,
like something I read long
ago when I was a kid, or
maybe dreamed, or a song

I heard once. Who, Lana? No, not
her, I don't have a wife
any more. She's a steno down
at the courthouse. Her life --

well, it's not exactly great either.
Schombauer, Lana.
We go Dutch. The movies, then the
Concord for baklava.


Used with the permission of Copper Canyon Press, P.O. Box 271, Port Townsend, WA
98368-0271, www.cc.press.org




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