Steve Langan

landscape with pony

Landscape with pony.

Landscape with trumpet.

Landscape with underfed ponies and broken trumpets.

Landscape with promises.

Landscape with malcontents.

Landscape with syringes in a shoebox.

Landscape we've lived here so long clawing

after privilege you told me you would bring me

back to the sea before I die.

Seascape with promises.

Seascape with veterans.

Seascape with pink bikini and snowboots.

Variation on a theme by you,

variation on a theme by me,

and, in the evening, "Six Sonatas for solo violin."

Self-portrait with potato farmers.

Self-portrait standing in front of the armory.

Self-portrait with the "old neighbors."

As brought to you by the Tube Socks Co.

Produced by Mr. Former Actuary Man,

directed by Mr. Stocking Cap all the time

and co-starring Sir Chemically Confused

with the one who usually plays the slut

and the Darling Child Growing Older

as the grave child with a tantalizing secret.


                        It's my dirty little mind again.

                        Poverty, cunt, glimpses

                        sometimes of paradise.

                        Because around the farm

                        we're courteous and hardly

                        ever ashamed anymore.

                        Casual in interpretations,

                        painstaking in declamations,


                        At the check-point,

                        what were you asked?

                        About the road conditions?

                        What did you tell

                        the determined caribinieri?

                        About the mediocre pavement?

                        Let's get back to the subject.

                        Will you hold me a while?

                        Until morning.

                        And speak only in English,

                        please, in plain flat

                        stupid midwestern.

                        So I cannot forget you.


In the ghost-light especially children are drawn

to metal objects of all kinds. 

Some for sifting, some for conjoining or breaking in two.

At dawn nurses chat behind stained curtains.

When they discovered they had lost their fathers,

did they relax or did they press on more gallantly?

Was there a secret among rivals they were late to share in?

Did they sidle, conclude, long for, ache, protrude, mumble?

Were the boulevards from which they departed lined with

baskets of flowers, some hanging from railings?

Was indifference a flower plucked and worn in their hair?

Did magnitudes of thought (and erstwhile vocabularies)

venture into their hearing?

Did they recount the damned among them?

Was there some dulled semblance of an anointing?

Of a moment that refused to betray permission?

Studio A

How mere "pilfering" might play

under the klieg lights.

Petty theft.

An inch or two from the dire scene,

an inch or two in the other direction,

an inch or two off the top.

With words fit to place in your poem:

words, words, words, words.

Their edges are like silence,

can't you see?

Don't look at me like that,

stiletto of iron.

Same as the one you purchased

in Tijuana on Revolucion Blvd.

One goshdarn hot August afternoon.

-- Suffer through this common form

of loveliness without a house

to call your own then you can come back

home by the fire and rest your crazy head.

A tortured reunion,

I'll put steaks on the grill.

Filet mignon,

and I'll invite the neighbors.

Look, redemption that fails.

Look, the failure of redemption.

Devastation at six o'clock

on the six o'clock news.

From the Earth

                        Give me just a minute to remember

                        the earth and what rose from the earth

                        beside you and me, to establish that in dogged

                        pursuit a passageway opened. Sacrilegious,

                        how the body currently responds…it capers.

                        But just after "congratulations" it swam away,

                        so tired of the pitchfork voice, obviously.

                        It was right there, the corpus, before it submerged.        

                        A way of transgressing had been felt. A how-to

                        of not-feeling. Give me a second to remember                      

                        our beloved sun: in a box of chipped photos

                        we appear naked to the machines while rowing home.