THE DIFFERENCE AT CAFE D’ARTHE
Except for coffee, light never forgives the dark.
Here, at the bar, even a driver of dangerous liquids
can find a robust, fertile rest so river deep,
his gaze darkens like the old air between two lenses
in a telescope. He has time to smoke, to talk
to the milk and carbon, to think without thinking how
an olive oil spill can make a napkin into
some private window, the most temporary stained glass
in the world, a window made
not to see through, but to.
It is not odd when from his mouth
comes the muffled sound of steel
in a mattress, or is it a guitar?
Sparrows flutter in the date palm pollen and dust.
What a bath!
The professional young hurry by outside thin-soled
toward the engine block of downtown.
They are faceless as umbrellas. That important.
This one’s lover must be rough, her hair the scent
of a midnight sea-port, her love-talk
a dirty old story of graffiti on graffiti.
When she dances for him some nights, she must look like
the aftermath of math. The answer, naked
and not wanting. Now, the driver has words:
That’s the ground, that’s the sidewalk, and that’s the love.
—from Rattle #43, Spring 2014
Tribute to Love Poems
John Poch: “I was studying nuclear engineering. I found myself writing poems rather than studying my formulas. The phrase ‘word problems’ took on a different meaning for me, a positive meaning. I transferred schools and began this path of poetry, and I rarely have looked back.”