Mark DeFoe’s poem “Jan. 27, 1979” appeared in our Fall 1983 issue. DeFoe lives in West Virginia; he is the author, most recently, of the collection Weekend Update.
Jan. 27, 1979
Today was mixed—some flurries, some sun,
Skied into woodcut snow scenes, then home,
discussed Flaubert with neighbor, the one
who admires the boldness of Emma.
I talked with Jeanne about her Dad,
how he is contrary, yet fine.
About the hurts we have traded, some grown
raw, rubbing against their giver. “Dilemma,”
I say. My tough guy routine makes her sad.
Too neat, she replies. Too arch, she tells me.
My wise wife. She takes the kids to the show,
and I am alone, facing the TV.
I ease myself into evening, snug,
blunting my heart on the network news.
Iranians whirl in the streets, slug
the air, each pounding a despot.
A plane is skyjacked over Winslow,
Rockefeller died in harness, near broke
farmers herd their John Deeres toward D.C.
I turn to the window. Exhaust smoke
blooms from a passing car. This morning
from the hills I saw my town, plain, sane,
heard the tolling of the courthouse clock.
This night a deer stands in my ski tracks,
rigid at the baying wild dog pack.
The house creaks, I test the doors, the locks.
When it comes, it comes without warning.
Nearby a neighbor is beating his child.
Those city dogs close, prolong their game,
slashing crudely. The deer’s eyes roll wild—
dogs hang from his throat, chew at his spine.
The child is creaming. The deer is falling
My life coils behind my chair. I face my TV,
a bourgeois man alone in my home
and I am afraid to turn around.