Anthony Frame

Spring Rain

     
   

It starts slowly, easing over us like a fog,
like a dance we’ve been sleepwalking through.

The season has changed again. Soon, the ground
will thaw, we’ll turn over the yard, ready for seeds

and sandals. The slugs will gather during the night
and the mice will leave the garage to lay claim

to the burrows abandoned by last fall’s rabbits.
For now, winter’s snow still covers the yard,

pages of a book becoming unbound, and my wife
leans against my back, curls her arms around

my stomach, presses her chin on my shoulder,
both of us staring for clarity through the window.

Sad to think the snow won’t crunch beneath my boots,
won’t hover like a halo on the tallest streetlights,

won’t lie along the house’s foundation like some
teenager desperately in love. My wife says she smells

the shift in the wind, soon the bees will return,
keeping me busy, keeping me away from her

even as they give birth to her garden. Warm tea
and a stack of student papers wait for her

on the coffee table; a pair of ragged boots
and a new book for my lunch hour wait for me

by the door. My love, we’ve survived another winter,
but can reborn grass really soften this jagged beauty

without destroying the ice-white quiet of a bed
built and rebuilt by snow and body heat?

     
           
 

The Doors to the Unemployment Offices Open

     
   

They wait with burning eyes and clotted bushes,
with hungry lullabies and silent shoes,
the patterns of their soles stamped into the concrete,
the sidewalk concrete no one sees, the concrete
stained by rainwater rainbows flushed down
with the sidewalk chalk of their porches.
They wait with landscapes of bread and butter
and shadows, with faces of shadows, with nose
and ears and cheeks scarred red, bitten by wind,
lips chapped and opened wide. With despair,
with sleeping kisses, they wait, their fingers
tapping as they march in their seats, their calves
and stomachs clenched beneath the best clothes they own,
their suits and dresses, their ties, their hair,
their muttered prayers. They wait, the mud and rain
and chalk they’ve climbed through clinging to their hair,
their haloes of baldness, their feet desperate
to dance despite their minds drifting back and forth,
between questions and answers, strangers and lovers,
between plastic chairs and window pane walls,
between diapers and dinners, red lights and green.
With babies and birds screaming in their ears,
waiting, these bricks, these stones, these tattered birds
waiting for sky. Waiting. These artisans of dreams.

     
           
 

While Trying to Rat-Proof One of Toledo’s Historic Victorian Homes, I Listen to the Customer as He Criticizes People who are Protesting Economic Inequality

     
   

When your boss gives you a task, say to find
a precedent and report back by noon, what
do you do? Ruffle through reference books,
dust-loved shelves kissing fingers, tickling toes?

Or maybe he needs the latest numbers about
some pending merger, some deal he scratched
in a napkin’s margin. You know which keys
to stroke, how to unlock the path to a raise.

You wear a plaid necktie, a shirt you have to iron
after every wash. You and I aren’t that different.
That’s not what I meant to say. My day’s work
leads me to suburban rafters where carpenter ants

have co-opted a crack. Or the deep shadows
of a crawlspace filling with mice. And the pitch
of certain roofs, on certain days, makes my legs
shake like a stick-shift fighting to get into gear.

It’s not the dirt or sweat or claustrophobia that
makes me wonder about your desk chair, that
makes me obsess over the smells stuck beneath
my fingernails. It’s the shadows, the searching,

the time spent doing nothing but following
the line of a flashlight, looking for the words
to help my wife see my footsteps in our world.
I can give you twenty ways to read a sonnet.

I can find an ant’s nest beneath a rose bush and
I can show you the shades of gray on both.
Never say I’m just a worker, just a blue uniform
and a name tag. I’ll try not to hate you for being

a window with a skyscraper skyline, a door with
your name inscribed like a plaque. Here,
I’ve learned thoughts that can crush the fog.
Words that defy aches and color and beauty.

     
 
   
     
 
      return to poetry
 

Anthony Frame is an exterminator who lives in Toledo, Ohio, with his wife. His first chapbook, Paper Guillotines, was published by Imaginary Friend Press.  His first full-length book, A Generation of Insomniacs, will be released by Main Street Rag Press in March 2014.  Recent poems have been published in or are forthcoming from Harpur Palate, Third Coast, The North American Review, Redactions, The Dirty Napkin, Gulf Stream and diode among others.. He is also the co-founder and co-editor of Glass: A Journal of Poetry. Learn more at http://www.anthony-frame.com/.