Lake, Fog, Just Saying

POEMS by Gregory Lawless 

           For B

The lake is just dirt in the heart.

You should look at the lake

like it’s applying for a job

as an ocean it will never get.

Pity the lake, that is.

Its heart is dry. A zillion small things

have died there and it’s your job

to ignore them. It is many times scarier

putting your naked feet

in the muck at the bottom of the lake

than it is falling asleep

in your childhood bed

after years away. Don’t go there

on vacation. Go to the desert

or the ocean that the lake will never be

instead. The horizon on the ocean

bells like an eye beneath

the shaved ice of outer space.

The ocean cannot be cleaved

by a single paddleboat, while the lake

is a mirror that smells bad.

It is surrounded by grass. Dogs

love it. The water is filled with land.




Not long ago I became the poet of the fog,

by which I mean, the fog hired me

to chronicle its confusions. For example,

when I heard a noise, it was the fog

explaining that it couldn’t hear what I was saying

because of the fog. And when I tried to explain music

to my daughter she made her shiny gurgling noises

of doves and stones, which meant her school district

would one day be the fog. My failures were a blurb

of the fog’s heroic devotions though the fog was just mud

in the sky. Whenever I had a memory

the fog would intercede and I would wipe the memory

from my glasses with the wing of my shirt.

The fog and I had many guests

who stabled their horses in the fog’s thick

wet fires. It is true that no one dies

of fog-inhalation but there are many dangers

to what is essentially living

in flightless clouds. Birds swim

through the trees. Planes think they’re falling

or dreaming or dying when they laze

on chartered runways. The rest of us

play hide-and-seek with angels

every time we blink our eyes. You blink

too much, says the fog. Yes and no, I think,

to everything.


Just Saying


I like glasses

because they give my face


to do.


Gregory Lawless is a 2004 graduate of MAPH and the author of I Thought I Was New Here (BlazeVOX Books, 2009), Far Away (Red Mountain Press, 2015), and Dreamburgh, Pennsylvania (Dream Horse Press, forthcoming). His poems have appeared in such places as Salamander, The Journal, The National Poetry Journal, Pleiades, Sixth Finch, and many others.

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