GEORGE BISHOP


Born in Philadelphia, George Bishop was raised on the Jersey Shore and
attended Rutgers University. He relocated to Florida in 1985. Recent poems
have appeared in The Comstock Review, White Pelican Review and will be
forthcoming in Boston Literary Magazine.






Once Growing Old

At the gate of a landfill
a ship pitches like a rocker
with one leg, not a single
believable story left to tell,
not so much as a name
to cut across the eye.

The weather takes its time
loosening the knots
of plank and resin,
stripping sounds from the lips
of color like the fingernails
of silent strokes.

Her storm rages. Rain
falls like a sea-courier
hammering a code
into her cracked-gray deck.
It could be saying
a tide is coming back
for her, that it knows
her name. All of them.
Or it could be something
sinking only the ocean
understands.






Buying The Dead Man's Coat Rack

The yard sale was in the driveway
filled with items the owner knew
I was passing by. So, she waited
until I reached her before telling me
there was more in the house.

She brought me through the back,
down a winding hall that ended
in a room with his photograph
hanging beside a double bed.
I looked for messages, listened
for a door to close, felt my heart
pumping me with all the escapes
I ever made. I thought of my
dark closet and all the empty
hangers, the shoes of my single
life neatly lined up in their
separate lives. I could feel them
both waiting as if something more
than I brought should appear.
She told me to make an offer
as she slid her night gown off
the rack and whatever I said
must've been fair.

On the way home
I bought a black leather jacket
from a church bazaar. Each night
I hang sunglasses from the top
pocket, turn the collar up
and wrap it around the rack.
It's something I know
I'll never wear, a face
I'm sure dreams
couldn't get through.
It all seemed to fit.






Moving Sale On Brown's Road

Out in the country
years of harvest cover
the card tables with bright,
round stickers and penciled-in
prices. I could only afford an old
window frame, perhaps one
of the eyes of the barn
that went blind when the fields
lost their color and the hay
blew away.

I brought it home and held it
where I believed a window should be,
hoping its three shades of peeling paint
might brush me beyond the rows
of ordinary nights. Maybe it could hang
in the dark hall opposite the head
of my bed and make faces
in my sleep.

Or, perhaps it should be
next to another window,
looking toward the country
and dirt roads still named
after farmers. It could ask
me every morning what I think
I see, which glass lets in
the most light.






Answers

It was this winter morning
with the other woman. Still.
Everything seemed to insist
it was about to crack
and our thoughts were out
over the ocean fishing
for some lost school
of baitfish. At some point
in the silence I dangled my house
keys over the seawall
and she whispered,

"Coward"

I showed her the markers
that dot the icy inlet
and told her they lie
after storms, that I felt
a ghost ship coming
when I met her, cutting
my blood full sail.
I tried to explain how
wrecks come ashore
all the time and we confuse them
with different kinds of daybreak
or the possibilities of the moon.
And she whispered,

"Coward"



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