William Heyen is Professor of English/Poet in Residence Emeritus at SUNY Brockport, his undergraduate alma mater. A former Senior Fulbright Lecturer in American Literature in Germany, he has won NEA, Guggenheim, American Academy & Institute of Arts & Letters, and other fellowships and awards.
He is the editor of American Poets in 1976, The Generation of 2000: Contemporary American Poets, and September 11, 2001: American Writers Respond. His books include Pterodactyl Rose: Poems of Ecology, The Host: Selected Poems, Erika: Poems of the Holocaust, and Ribbons: The Gulf War from Time Being Books; Pig Notes & Dumb Music: Prose on Poetry and Crazy Horse in Stillness, winner of 1997’s Small Press Book Award for Poetry, from BOA; Shoah Train: Poems, a Finalist for the 2004 National Book Award, and The Confessions of Doc Williams: Poems from Etruscan Press; and The Rope: Poems, The Hummingbird Corporation: Stories, and Home: Autobiographies, Etc. from MAMMOTH Books. Carnegie-Mellon University Press has published his first book, Depth of Field (LSU P, 1970) in its Classic Contemporaries Series. Etruscan Press has recently published A Poetics of Hiroshima, a Chautauqua Literary & Scientific Circle selection for 2010.
Then we were all outside under trees.
I can’t fathom what we were doing.
Then we were all inside the car.
Pop was driving.
Then we were all outside in Time again
when Pop died.
Then we were all inside the car again.
My brother Werner was driving.
Then we were all outside under trees again
where Pop was sleeping.
Then Werner died.
Then we were all inside the car again,
& I was driving, at dawn, into the future,
with my whole family in the car.
I wondered if somewhere ahead I’d find
a restaurant, maybe even
a bank with a machine
that might remember me.
Then my son was driving into dusk.
I’d left the car. I stood along the road
to watch them pass.
They were moving fast
across fields & over cobblestones
that were photograph albums.
Then Pop was just a boy in the back seat.
His father was driving, or grandfather.
I can’t picture who all the women were,
but they were glad to be together
for a family outing. Then the sun fell
into the trees & windshield glare….
I walked into that glare
& looked around. No trees there,
nor sky above me.
The only sound was the sound
of a motor that seemed to be
fused with me. Then, again, I saw the car.