Friday May 24

Harshman Marc Harshman’s second full-length collection, Believe What You Can, was published in 2016 by West Virginia University Press. Periodical publications include The Georgia Review, Emerson Review, Gargoyle, Salamander, and Poetry Salzburg Review. His poems have been anthologized by Kent State University, the University of Iowa, University of Georgia, and the University of Arizona. His thirteen children’s books include The Storm, a Smithsonian Notable Book. He was an invited reader at the 2016 Greenwich Book Festival in London. His monthly show for West Virginia Public Radio, “The Poetry Break,” began airing in January.  He is the seventh poet laureate of West Virginia.

Becoming Alien

Whether it was a good time or not ….
We stood on our knees in the green water, and sang
in unison their national anthem,
or was it ours, or was it simply
what had been ours and was now theirs?
Still, these lethal patriots were once our neighbors.
Purgation and discipline followed
on the heels of that brown and white dog with the speckled ears.
The helmet told us what was next and that relieved the tension.
The crows were taking their turns, loudly, within the blur of shadows.
Our bladders would wait, we would wait, second rate, second chance, only seconds
              between here and nowhere.
So we did what we were told, climbed the ladder into his breast pocket
              where all the minstrels sang, white mints, free for all.
Cool. Way cool . . .
      someone said.
I remain unsure about that—
      you know, fun, or funny, a good time, a laugh, a last laugh, a last cigarette.
I remember it as if I had been kept on ice, my breath clean as any kiss, I remember
      a wall where all the graffiti was blue-blood and true,
      and the sloshing of water was by a pier
      where our bodies were to feed the fish . . .

It’s About Time

            The summer comes to an end with the intricate, throbbing static of locusts and frogs and crickets. It is not cool. Not yet. And the nights are only a little longer and the kids’ crayons remain unbroken and Sharon is still wearing her two-piece when she mows in the evenings. Not bad, not bad at all for sixty. This must be a part of what salvation is, being attractive to the other sex when you’re supposed to be past it. I can sleep easily when I know someone knows what time it is. Sharon knows it’s time to mow the yard, and to look sexy and alive while doing it. The kids know a little more than they knew yesterday, if they’ve got the right teacher, and I always hope they do. And the locusts, crickets, frogs know it’s time to do what they do, and though I don’t know what that is, I do know they’re doing it right on time, and that’s good, good enough for me. Maybe I know something, too. Maybe Sharon would like a beer. It’s about time.