A Poem by Grant Clauser

Grant Clauser

Grant Clauser

Grant Clauser is the author of four books, including Reckless Constellations (winner of the Cider Press Review Book Award) and The Magician's Handbook. His poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, Cortland Review, Tar River Poetry and others. He works as an editor and also teaches at Rosemont College. 

He Knows What Makes Old Men Grumpy

Christmas, for starters, rain again,
then the rain froze and cars slid
through traffic lights, bending fenders

all around and smashing mailboxes.
He remembers when this road divided
one harvested field from another,

some years corn, some soy, and then
front loaders leveled the camelback hills
used as home base in kids' war games,

furrows turned to cul-de-sac streets
named for trees that maybe grew here
till townhomes edged up to parking lots

and a new mini mart and Chick-fil-A
in the spot his friend, years ago, hung
himself from a willow just before

winter came to cover the deer trails,
freeze the creek to silver white, now
diverted to steel drains between houses.

His grief is the smell of halupki no one
remembers how to cook, the cabbage layers
wrapped just so by mother's hands

so now he lays a blanket on his legs,
and the old dog shrinks next to him
like fruit that darkens when left alone

or the stories he told his daughters
about the field where arrowheads hid
among tractor clumps, where someone

with the time to cross a field by foot,
to poke into dirt and gopher holes
could find something made by hands,

something released and forgotten
until evening claims all the light, when
everything the sun left behind is lost.