“The Man In Charge Of Watering” by Jack Grapes

The summer sun, strong and bright,
sits down on the bricks in the front yard.
Cars which have nothing to do with bricks
go by on the street heading home.
It’s Wednesday afternoon,
middle of the week,
when you can put everything you’d planned
on Monday
back on the back burner.
A lady goes by; I nod and smile and say hello.
She’s carrying a bag of groceries.
I think she lives down the block.
I should go back inside,
the sun’s hot on my face,
and I’m not wearing my hat.
Lori admonishes me
“Don’t forget to wear your hat.”
I came outside to fill the fountain
and forgot to wear my hat.
Now, I’m just standing here,
looking around, saying hello
to the neighbors as they pass by.
When we first bought this house
when Josh was two years old,
I used to go outside after the sun had gone down
and hose the grass on the front and side lawn.
Such a peaceful time, and the back spray from the hose
cooled everything down.
I was Mr. Homeowner watering his lawn.
There are flowers blooming here
that Lori knows the names of, but I can’t
seem to remember their names.
Jasmine, Bougianvillea, true geraniums.
I can’t keep track of them all.
I’ve tried, but the names elude me.
Even the grass has a name,
but I’ve forgotten that too.
This is what heaven will be like.
Anytime I want, I’ll be able to water the lawn.
All my friends will walk by,
I’ll nod, say hello, watch them pass along
going wherever people go in heaven.
I won’t have to do anything but water the lawn.
And the water, you should see the water in heaven.
Crystal clear, light as a feather, so to speak,
diamonds of light.
The back spray will cool my face and head.
And the grass. You’d think grass
in heaven wouldn’t need watering,
but you’re in for quite a surprise.
Everything up here needs watering.
Even the bricks, the bricks that sit in the sun
getting hot.
Even God, who soaks up all our prayers.
Even God will need a spray or two
to cool down.
I’ll be the waterer.
The man in charge of watering everything
and everyone,
the man spraying water in heaven.
That’ll be my job.
When God comes by, asks how I’m doing,
I’ll say, “Fine, just fine.”
Then I’ll turn and ask,
“Need a little watering?”
And God will nod,
say, “Sure, soak me down, just
don’t wet the groceries.”
And I’ll give God a good spray.
That’ll be my job —
the man in charge
of watering God.

Jack Grapes is an award-winning poet and playwright. He will be reading from his new book, “THE NAKED EYE: New and Selected Poems 1987-2012″ at Beyond Baroque in Venice, California,

aug 26, sept 9, and sept 30 are sold out,
and there’s a few seats left for oct 7. 1pm.

Reservations and tickets here

Photo by L.K. Thayer

“SZYMBORSKA” by Jack Grapes

I came home
Wednesday night from class
and Lori was ensconsed
like a caterpillar in a cocoon
on the bed, watching a movie on tv
about crazy people who fall in love
and break china.
“Szymborska died,” I said.

She reached for the remote and shut the tv off.
The room expanded into that quiet bubble we experience
when we shut off the tv.

She looked at me and said nothing.

What was there to say?

A friend dies, a poet dies, poetry lives on:
There’s nothing you can say.

It’s like turning off the tv,
and their passing
fills the space of our lives
with all that silence.
A balloon of being and nothingness,
a reduction of existence into a series
of appearances, overcoming those dualisms
that have embarrassed philosophy
and replacing them with the monism
of the phenomenon.

I put the clipboard I still had in my hand on the dresser
and began to undress. Then I got in the bed and lay beside her.
We still hadn’t spoken.

Szymborska was gone.

We just lay there for a bit, in the silence,
not sure who would break it,
not sure whose turn it was
to turn the moment
back into words.
You need a poet at a time like this,
and the poet was gone.

There was a small crack in the ceiling.
And a tiny cobweb in the corner.
Later, Lori’d probably get on a chair and with a tissue
wipe it away. That was her job, getting
those little tiny spider webs
gone before they engulfed the house,
our lives, the planet. Don’t
worry, dear reader, she’s on the job.
You will be safe.

“What’s my job?” asks Lori when she’s nagging me.
And I repeat the mantra: “To take care of me.”

But for now, with Szymborksa’s passing
still blooming into silence,
the cobweb would have to wait,
the crack would just have to bide its time.

Such a long silence.

Then I thought, fuck it.
I reached for the remote, and clicked the tv back on.

There went a teacup.
Crash.
There went another.
Crash.
It was good to get back
to a semblance of the world,
all that love and passion,
all those broken teacups.

Jack Grapes

(Author/Poet/Method Writing Teacher)

Photo by L. K. Thayer

© 2012

“Another Sentence” by Jack Grapes

Photo by VC Ferry

Every sentence is another sentence,
really another life.
Someone’s always one step ahead.
The streets glow from the snow plow’s blade
chipping up stone with a daylight flash.
From here, the same tree out back,
the same asphalt roof,
the same wounded clothespins
shifting on the line.
Sometimes the man hanged is a hero,
sometimes a traitor.
Perfect sight and perfect blindness
when it suits our needs.
One day you realize
that you cannot break out
of your own bones.
There is snow-mush in the gutters
and along the highway,
melting here, turning to rock there.
Something’s always a step ahead.
Every sentence is another life,
really another sentence.

Jack Grapes

Jack Grapes

from his book “Trees,Coffee and the

Eyes of Deer”

All Rights Reserved

© 1995

VC Ferry

© 2009

“Suspect” by Jack Grapes

Suspect
the poem
that is not
a matter
of life & death.
It is like
all the other
poems
that are not
matters
of life & death.
When a man
talks to you
without
blinking an eye,
when a man
listens
without glancing
over his shoulder,
his hand
is on a knife
and he knows
what he wants.
He wants
your crippled mother
clutching that
foolish poem
in her
wheelchair
hands.

Jack Grapes

Jack Grapes

(from his book “Trees, Coffee and the

Eyes of Deer”)

All Rights Reserved

© 1995

Jack Grapes (quote)

Jack Grapes portrait, bw.

“We are not urban,

we are not rural.

We are not proletarian,

we are not court apologists.
We are poets and writers of the 21st Century.
We celebrate a cleansing away
of all the soot
of 20th-Century industrial theoretical pollution–
while we embrace every one of its dark particles.
We are poets of transformation and rigidity.
We proclaim the manifest destiny of the pen
and the hand and the computer,
the sentence and the name and face.
We protest and we burn,
we assemble and we build.
We look to the East as well as the West.
We gaze to the North as well as to the South.
We are the dissipative structures
of non-equilibrium thermodynamics.
We oscillate from Being to Becoming,
from Becoming to Being.
We speak no one’s mind
and no one’s heart
but the heart and mind of the collective.
Yet, we care not a whit for the collective;
we elevate the individual,
the collective be damned.
We sleep with chaos.
We dance with tradition.
We garden with the flesh.
We landscape with the mind.
We open with the arm.
We close with the eye.
We resuscitate with the mouth.
We grasp with the heart.
We contradict ourselves.
We sound our barbaric yawp
over the rooftops of the world.”

Jack Grapes

All Rights Reserved

© 2009