Summer winds down
high school bands
serenade the humid night

A ride to the train station
then she's on her own
on her way to college

Memories dance
past baronial homes
pulling north along the river

From the train window
Grandma moving backwards
the words I, me and you

Repeating names
matching them to faces
the sketchbook hidden in her bed

Home on winter break
trusting to find all as she left it
the familiar routines, the grief

The words spoken in haste
wafting out of the house
and into the neighborhood

Dogs on toothpick legs
too old to run
bark at the pain

That lingers
embedded in the walls
asking only to be heard.

Night Canvas

Night lowers its canopy
Street signs
Turn to white pillars
Marking all who pass

Words skitter on train tracks
Rubbed off newsprint
I was once, I was once
Good in school
Sitting at attention

Night drops
Hot stars in dirty puddles
As the train pulls in
I was once
A passenger
Leaving every day for the city.

On this night
I search the basement
For evidence of my work
I was once an artist
Pulling colors and faces from moist air
Feeding them back through a sieve.


Colors shine Kool-Aid cheap
against the truer palette
of her skin.

Dimestore Rose
years later it's still there
defying time and soap
like stubborn graffiti
on an old subway car.

Men, like the seasons,
come and go
always with that wry look
of amusement
the what have we here?

But the Rose remains
through the storm of winter
her petals intact
the dye shining brightly
on an old woman's behind.


Together again
trying to take pictures
in the half-light of a dream.

My brother and sister
smiling as they shrink down
on the staircase.

My parents behind them
locking arms, growing younger
for the camera.

A little dog I've never seen
standing in for Bessie
our oversized English bull.

Adjusting my settings, I tell them about my date--
he is somewhere in the city
waiting at a pay phone.

A kind man named Harry or something--
the good kind who
just sort of fits in.

I imagine him
standing where I am standing
giving me a chance to be in the picture.

    Dale Laszig

"Tattoo" and "Family Photo" first appeared in Dances & Lies, a chapbook published by Still Waters Press.

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