Saturday, January 7, 2012

Raintown #2

weathered prayer flags fringe the porch's
chipped white paint molding, a paper

star dangling ungraceful alongside frayed 

cloth—nailed to cedar boards a Christmas

Scotch pine lies derelict & dripping at Albina & 
Mason—white wicker

rocker's set upside down in a drab Dodge
pickup’s bed atop heaped wheels & 

tools—this white air swirls: this stifling cold

smoke—lawn chairs, sun umbrella, patio
table all pastel, upturned at random be-

hind a snarled wire fence—this crimson 

bow lies on the sidewalk not so far from the 
Monster energy drink can—slat fence
spilling white spirea into white fog spilling

drizzle & wreckage—January’s red
roses cling to clapboards, yellow rose stands
all on its own in the parking strip—not

least: a rusted Schwin bike secured to porch rails:
it’s festooned with tangled icicle lights—
will mercy ever be sufficient

Jack Hayes
© 2012


  1. I love this one. The poem brings back so many memories. I saw the scene and felt like I was there when I read the words.

  2. Hi Joyce: Thanks so much--I appreciate your taking the time to say you liked it well.

  3. This had kind of an opposite effect than the first one in terms of color. In the first one it was colors emerging out of gray-white, here it's whiteness and fogginess claiming everything. But both poems end on a powerful startling line.

    I love the distinct images too, particularly "January's red roses cling to clapboards."

  4. I've been working on a poem I'm thinking of as " A Blue Day." This poem is definitely about a white day. for whatever reason white days always seem to me days out of time and Portland's climate conspires to reinforce that feeling. The Christmas decorations and the roses coexisting in the cold white air, the prayer flags and the Christmas tree and the white porch rocker all sinking into their own versions of decay in the vicinity of Albina Street. I like the way we're brought right into the particulars of the scene - "this stifling cold." this crimson ribbon." Contrasted with the way the rest of the scene flows from detail to detail in a nonspecific way - a paper star, a scotch pine, a drab dodge, etc, or even more pointedly, 'weathered flags,''lawn chairs, sun umbrella, patio table' and so on have no referent at all. Only the porch and the Monster drink can get a 'the.' A beautiful use of deictics to manoeuvre the reader through the scene and attach him to it and detach him, and attach him. Lots else going on here that I like but I'll confine myself to that last line. Two head turners in a row, opening things out in the way white days do. I hope we see a lot more of raintown.

  5. Hi HKatz: Yes, I wonder if I can keep up a sequence that is so dependent on big punch lines? :-) Very glad you liked it--yes, it has quite a different feel indeed.

  6. Hi Mairi: Your discerning eye as a reader always impresses me--yes, the articles, when to use them, when not, were a major part of the revision process. I'm most gratified to know that this proved effective. Albina was a "happy accident"--the little discarded Christmas tree actually was at Albina & Mason, which is very near to where I live. & yes, it was a very white day yesterday indeed. Now I'm looking forward to "A Blue Day." Deep thanks to you for your reading of this.

  7. This is wonderful!!

    It's like everything left behind, and forgotten...what used to be special isn't special anymore.

    "this crimson

    bow lies on the sidewalk not so far from the
    Monster energy drink can"


    Nothing's sacred.

    What was meaningful is now just garbage.

    I don't know why it makes me smile so...I guess because you captured it so well and beautiful, and as a fellow poet, I feel like your new home (or maybe not so new anymore) is helping you bring home new prizes. Treasures you find out on the sidewalk. ;)

  8. Hi Ginger: Never under-estimate sidewalk treasures--I have lived by that since I was in San Francisco. Of course, in Idaho it did me less good as a motto, but I did try to adjust it to the landscape. Really happy you're enjoying this series!


Thanks for stopping by & sharing your thoughts. Please do note, however, that this blog no longer accepts anonymous comments. All comments are moderated. Thanks for your patience.