David Alpaugh’s latest collection Heavy Lifting was published last year by Alehouse Press and has been nominated for best book of poetry, 2007, by the Northern California Association of Independent Booksellers. His first collection Counterpoint won the Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize from Story Line Press. Publications where his work has appeared include The Formalist, Modern Drama, Poetry, Zyzzyva, and California Poetry from the Gold Rush to the Present, and he has new work forthcoming in Raintown Review and Rattle. His article “The Professionalization of Poetry” was serialized by Poets & Writers Magazine in 2003, drawing over 200 letters and emails and wide discussion on the internet. He lives in Pleasant Hill, California and coordinates a popular Bay Area poetry reading series in Crockett.

The Man Who Loves Better Homes & Gardens

is puttering, evenings, weekends, inspecting his gutters,
plucking out loquats, acorns, eucalyptus leaves,
so the still far-off November rain can leave
his roof quickly, with elegance. He hales forth
bindweed from the chinks between sidewalk slabs,
star thistle from the caulking around the pool
where gangster grasses shoot their way to glory.
Sometimes during high wind a shingle breaks
loose in the night and clatters onto the patio.
Could he see in the dark he'd leap out of bed,
climb his aluminum ladder and wedge the cedar
shield back in place--before the roof rats
got wind of it. He lies there waiting for dawn.

Like model before mirror, he cannot sit on his desk
Sundays without discovering fresh enemies to beauty.
There's a gopher hill beside the spa, sprung-up
overnight like a mushroom; and on the lawn
a real mushroom he'd swear wasn't there
last evening. The forces of darkness have flung
a beer bottle over the fence. It's lying among
his roses, crying, "This Bud's for You!"
A shrike has eaten a finch or sparrow and left
beak, legs, dangling from a twig
on his ornamental pear. His right hand flashes
forth in love and anger--drops bird in trash
can, bottle in compactor. What a war!


Today I am throwing old checks away
That lay in a shoebox five years, fearing audit.
They're free--free at last, to burn or decay.

Money still talks, but her ghouls simply say,
"Something was sold at a price and you bought it."
Today I am throwing old checks away.

Each bears its signature; year, month & day;
And pays to the order of Mammon: due profit.
They're free--free, at last, to burn or decay.

Here's one for Sears; here's one for ballet;
Airfare to Rome; a homeless benefit.
Today I am throwing old checks away,

Saying "Ciao!" to old wolves they kept at bay
While they tended our credit and fed it bit by bit.
They're free--free, at last, to burn or decay.

I crumple the papered past. I murmur, "Hurray."
It's my shredder now much reconcile chit, chit,chit.
Today I am throwing old checks away.
They're free--free, at last, to burn or decay.

What My Father Loved About Melmac

That you could drop it on the floor.
That you could hit it with a sledgehammer.
That you could back over it with a Mack truck.

That in this Henry J world where we rattled along
crying for a Tucker--here at last was the real thing.
that it came in a variety of colors including maroon.

That you could get it with S & H green stamps.
That once all 32 pieces were stacked up on the pantry
shelf you'd never have to buy dinnerware again.

That at last he could enjoy his Kix or shredded wheat
in peace--knowing every bowl on the kitchen table
was childproof.

That never again would Mom shout, "Butterfingers!"
nor grieve over china lying in ruins at our feet;
nor swear as she cut her toe on an unswept shard.

Pharaoh of our New Jersey duplex, Dad dreamed
of burial, near the Nile, with his favorite cup & saucer.
"Melmac," he said, "would last ten thousand years."

David Alpaugh Moonday poetry reading

from Heavy Lifting Poems 1995-2006 (Alehouse Press)
© 2007 David Alpaugh

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