February 2008

Gary Sloboda


Gary Sloboda is a writer living in San Francisco. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in such places as Rattle, Melic Review, The Adirondack Review, Euphony, and Puppyflowers. Gary is working on a book-length collection of poems tentatively entitled Tremor Philosophies.


we took classes
and walked home

along Van Ness
like two shadows
peeled from the ether.

As the sharp wind
of late September
pierced our lungs,

we read at night
from the tabloids
of local newspapers,

scanned classifieds
for homeless cats
and used clothes.  

The slow warmth
of summer was over
and the moon

had split like a bone.
What poem did she recite
on the back staircase

in the lit beams of dust?
I heard its syllables
and brittle pitch for days

as if every word
so pleasantly perched
on the red leaf

of her lips
would crumble or spark
into flame

leaving the air
mute and desolate
above the labored

creak of steps
as elderly tenants
hefted grocery bags

to the upper floors.
I still see the dark
stains of booze

and blood blended
to a copper hue
in the carpet

of the common area.  
She lived there
longer than I,

but it's her poem
always about
to burn the silence

of rented rooms down,
about to die
from the den

of my mind,
that ushers autumn
to my soul.    




The third month of my unemployment
I drove my brother's car on a weeknight

with a waitress I loved from San Leandro.
Her glass eye lit up like a milky orb

under streetlights when she turned my way.
Her work uniform was shed like old skin

and stuffed in her purse, the lace at the cuffs
of the black sleeves blooming like frost

in the den of the dark car.  Along the state road
the saw grass swayed in the vehicular wind.  

We were going somewhere louder than ourselves
with smoke filled air, hard drinks to take us off

of our minds. At the Four Kegs bar
I claimed big plans to write books in Spain

and drink Grenache for breakfast on benches
in the sun draped plazas of Barcelona.  

She had two kids and lived with her mother
in a sublet apartment.  I told her how towers

chimed like silver pieces falling, that we should go
in spring to think for ourselves and watch rain gather

over the water each day as summer approaches.
We'd sleep in the afternoon and rise to the night's sky.

I carried on as her hands lay steady as dead birds.
Her blind eye tore my words apart like god.



Gary Sloboda: Poetry
Copyright ©2008 The Cortland Review Issue 38The Cortland Review