What Is and Isn’t True: The Great Gatsby

This isn’t just an epigram — life is much more successfully looked at from a single window, after all.
                                                                                                                                                             — F. Scott Fitzgerald

once barely hinted
estimates emerge full blown
now with the gauntlet down
and the wounded and the fake
demanding they be heard

if you’re a listener
you’ll get accused of all sorts
of things.  From wanting
to exploit the weak who flock
to you to getting off on them

a good listener
must sift through rough, rocky dirt
through others’ worries
looking for smooth and lighter
sand, something he can use

as Solomon was known
to set verbal traps for those
who came bemoaning
how their world, how their life was
— he asked, “Would you be someone else?”





On the Seashore: Twice Told Tales

When, therefore, the yearning for seclusion becomes a necessity within me, I am drawn to the seashore.
                                                                                                                                                            — Nathaniel Hawthorne

lonely were the sea’s
salt waves each piling one upon
another in Time
an isolation imposed
for more than sanity’s sake

dreaming meets our need
for escape, shedding others
learning how to fly
high above the city’s call
riding the incoming waves

meet the day early
drain it dry.  Nighttime rolling
in will savor it
the sea’s memory lights up
the dark street coming home





Try to Remember: Swann’s Way

... comme des écailles sur mes yeux
                                                      — Proust

one who has been
wholly dead and whose ideas
from previous lives
echo faintly in our thoughts
as memory is — déjà vu

dreams, sleeping deeply
awakening her deep sleeper
dreaming of herself
walking out of the story
turning into — Charlemagne

comme une chose vraiment
obscure, the blackness thickens
she was forgetting
things as quickly as she thought
them, rewriting history





Goes Begging

These things in which we have seen ourselves and spoken?
                                                                                — Richard Wilbur

With a crudely lettered sign that read
Homeless — Hungry — God bless
a woman in camouflage pants and army boots
stood in the middle of traffic
outside the supermarket parking lot.
This wraith, exuding here like a lanced infection
or excreta we can’t think from where,
she crawled her way out into our thinking
distant, alien, and unreachable.

I remembered all the mendicants
I’d ever seen — blind cripples and Gypsies
with drugged infants in their arms, lunatics
talking to themselves, and a depressed Spaniard
sunk abysmally, his black weeping.
In the end, this spectacle lasted only the seconds
it took for the light to change and let us
escape the beggar and her pleading looks.
I said it was probably staged, my wife felt
we should have given her something.





[Charles D. Tarlton’s poetry has appeared in 2River, Blackbox Manifold, contemporary haibun online, Fiction International, Haibun Today, Ink, Sweat, and Tears, Kyso Flash (featured poet), London Grip (UK), Review Americana, Shot Glass, Rattle, The Journal (UK), and Tipton.  Muse-Pie Press nominated his poems from Shot Glass for the 2013 Pushcart Prize. He lives in Northampton, Massachusetts with his wife, Ann Knickerbocker, an abstract painter.]

Copyright © 2016 by Charles D. Tarlton, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.