Two poems by Eric Gansworth

Eric Gansworth

Eric Gansworth

Eric Gansworth (Onondaga) is Lowery Writer-in-Residence and Professor of English at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY. The author of eight books, including the PEN Oakland Award winning MENDING SKINS, and A HALF-LIFE OF CARDIO-PULMONARY FUNCTION, (National Book Critics Circle's “Good Reads List” for Spring 2008), Gansworth is also a visual artist. His play, RE-CREATION STORY, was part of the Public Theater's Native Theater Festival, in NYC. His work has appeared in the Kenyon Review, Shenandoah, the Boston Review, Provicetown Arts, Poetry International, Third Coast, and the Yellow Medicine Review, among others. His next novel, EXTRA INDIANS will appear in 2010.

Jerry Wants to See Me

His daughter tells me
as I stand in their new house
for the first time
though they've been there
for years by the time
a suicide funeral
of someone my age
brings me back
through their door
and when I enter his bedroom
see the array of pill bottles
filling his night stand
a collection of rare ambers
he looks mostly the same
and though his head is shaved
his mustache still bushes
forward, a filter for his smile
as he speaks:
“You're surprised before me
and that's the tricky thing
about cancer, it eats you
from the inside and if you're lucky
you disappear before it breaks
the seal, but me, I am gonna hold
onto every last second, no matter
what rips the surface. Don't you
be having any thoughts
like your buddy there, pissing
on me by stepping out early
when I work hard every day
at hanging on to the things
I hold dear. I know
I ain't your dad,
but I've only got a few
breaths left and I wanted you
to share in some of them.”




“We Had Some Good Times Anyway”

This is what she
whispers to me,
my mother, as we embrace,
hold one another just
before they close the casket
for the last time
at your funeral.
This is what she
could summon, build,
conjure, after having
been married
to you more
or less for over
fifty years.

Do you wonder after all
this time has passed
to what she might be
referring as she lets go
of those few tears
she generally keeps
locked within that smile?

I tend to think
they are not the times
you smashed cars she had
not yet paid for
or those when you would
disappear without warning
or at least not directly.

Instead they are the ways
we reinvented ourselves
in your absence, the ways
we became whole
without you, learning
to eat fast before someone
else proved Darwin only partially
right to a group of people
who would have never believed
him even if they had heard
of his survival theories. We knew
what Darwin could have never found
room for, humor and invention
keeping us from the endangered list.