Touch: The Journal of Healing


Uncommon Refrains

    by Gregory W. Randall

Because the night nurse 

     takes frequent smoke breaks, 

and because too many narcotics 

     maraud through your veins

for you to be allowed to sleep,

     I volunteered to keep you awake tonight.

Because I only remember gin rummy

     and because you say to me, 

being in a hospital gown, 

     strip poker seems grossly unfair,

we form melds 

     and discard deadwood.

Because pine trees remain green in winter

     and are symbols of survival,

I recount for you every forest 

     I’ve ever hiked.

Because your mother and I 

     collect sea rocks every summer

with holes scoured by 

     merciless grains of sand 

and say to each other, See, nothing lasts,

     I don’t mention this.

Because we need a sense of equilibrium, I tell you

     slack water’s a brief moment

when no tidal influence

     exerts itself on the sea

like now, when the phone’s silent 

     and the needs of a husband and young girl

don’t yank on your conscience

     like a gibbous moon.

Because the future of our altered lives

     seems too intense for tonight

we seek to replicate 

     a time we sat with your mother 

in tranquil shade on the continent’s edge

     and gazed at marled waves

and read ghost stories and 

     guessed at the sex of your baby,

then compared the sea’s erratic colors 

     to metals and minerals

to lend the moment 

     a sense of permanence

because somewhere a bay fills 

     with soil dug out of 

far-away mountains in pursuit of gold

     and we’ll never swim so deep again.

© 2010 Gregory W. Randall

Gregory W. Randall majored in English and Latin at St.Olaf College and spent innumerable hours in the music library. Classical music by composers such as Sibelius and Brahms continue to inform both the structure and pacing of his poetry. His chapbook, Double Happiness, won the Fifth Annual Camber Press Chapbook Contest as judged by Mark Doty and is forthcoming in late 2010. His chapbook, A Room in the Country, will be published by Pudding House Press in 2010. He is a recipient of the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prize for 2008 and a finalist for the 2008 White Pine Press book award. His recent work appears or is forthcoming in The Bitter Oleander, CQ, Cream City, GW Review, Louisiana Literature, Louisville Review, Pedestal, Rosebud, Southern California Review, South Carolina Review, Sow’s Ear, Stand, and other noted journals. Greg owns a financial planning practice in Santa Rosa, CA where he and his wife host the Londonberry Salon a quarterly celebration of poetry in their home.


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Touch: The Journal of Healing

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