Issue > Poetry
Steve Langan

Steve Langan

Steve Langan is the author of Freezing (2001), Notes on Exile and Other Poems (2005), Meet Me at the Happy Bar (2009), and What It Looks Like, How It Flies. He teaches at the University of Nebraska at Omaha MFA in Writing program, and he is founder and director of the Seven Doctors Project.  

Vacation Poem

It is mostly a straight line, but still I manage sometimes to get lost,
especially with you three in the car, talking and sometimes even singing.

And to answer your question, yes, it is unair how the children were treated—

the whole community, really—afterward.

They were treated like animals. Even worse than that. Some were beaten.
I heard one was raped.

But all of this concentrated soothing, it looks painful, too, to me at least.

It fascinates me how the sun in its descent always loses its appeal.
Of course, others do enjoy it.

I created a distinctive toast with a dedication to the gods
and this shitty little wince I perfected years ago in mother's mirror.

It needs to be said one more time: it looks painful, all of this furious soothing.
They need time to heal, of course. Leave them alone. Move on.

—We get there, finally, and we wake and begin to circle things. Ponds.
Gardens. Staying comfortably on the perimeter.

On the way I kept looking out the window,
but I remember nothing now.

It wasn't a truce, exactly; we were all too tired
at the end of the drive to care.

Here in this place we all longed to see—to land at these shores—
and most mornings it's make a little puddle of piss and go back to bed.

There's the tender part, too, the tender walking around
arm-in-arm on the beach part.

That was our business, we tell strangers. Buy low and sell high.
We have all been through so much.

We earned enough so now we come out here and do
whatever we want.


At home I was mama's "little dreamer."
At work the boss whispered get busy.
I tried, with little success, to forget it all.

The method is common: out the window
you imagine a forest (too dense),
so you imagine an ocean, it's azure.

But oceans are especially unruly.
Oceans are unforgiving.
A rogue wave...

and now the town is drowning.
For a minute it's beautiful,
the chairs and all the tables.

But then the realization
everyone is drowning.
Wake up, be good, smile.

Life will never be as good
as it is right now.


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