collection of old postcards, I'm coming! I'm com-
ing! You want to show me a train station with its
clock stopped at five past five. We can't see inside
the station master's window because of the grime.
We don't even know if there's a train waiting on
the platform, much less if a woman in black is
hurrying through the front door. There are no other
people in sight, so it must be a quiet station. Some
small town so effaced by time it has only one veiled
widow left, and now she too is leaving with her
I knew a night owl who dreamed of being a
star of country music. O cruel fate! O vale of tears!
We drank whiskey in coffee cups in late-hour dives
while the juke box spinned her favorites. She fed me
forked pieces of steak while my hand strayed under
the table. The choirboy counterman's big ears
turned crimson. She, with eyes veiled, head thrown
back, so that my next bite hung in midair. I had to
stretch my neck all the way to take a nibble.
What was I to do? The madness of it was so
appealing, and the night so cold.
The time of minor poets is coming. Good-by
Whitman, Dickinson, Frost. Welcome you whose
fame will never reach beyond your closest family,
and perhaps one or two good friends gathered after
dinner over a jug of fierce red wine . . . while the
children are falling asleep and complaining about
the noise you're making as you rummage through
the closets for your old poems, afraid your wife
might've thrown them out with last spring's
It's snowing, says someone who has peeked
into the dark night, and then he, too, turns towards
you as you prepare yourself to read, in a manner
somewhat theatrical and with a face turning red,
the long rambling love poem whose final stanza
(unknown to you) is hopelessly missing.
--After Aleksandar Ristovic
from The World Doesn't End