Suburban Pastoral

By Dave Lucas Dave Lucas
Twilight folds over houses on our street;   
its hazy gold is gilding our front lawns,   
delineating asphalt and concrete   
driveways with shadows. Evening is coming on,   
quietly, like a second drink, the beers   
men hold while rising from their plastic chairs   
to stand above their sprinklers, and approve.   

Soon the fireflies will rise in lucent droves—   
for now, however, everything seems content   
to settle into archetypal grooves:   
the toddler's portraits chalked out on cement,   
mothers in windows, finishing the dishes.   
Chuck Connelly's cigarette has burned to ashes;   
he talks politics to Roger in the drive.   

"It's all someone can do just to survive,"   
he says, and nods—both nod—and pops another   
beer from the cooler. "No rain. Would you believe—"   
says Chuck, checking the paper for the weather.   
At least a man can keep his yard in shape.   
Somewhere beyond this plotted cityscape   
their sons drive back and forth in borrowed cars:   

how small their city seems now, and how far   
away they feel from last year, when they rode   
their bikes to other neighborhoods, to score   
a smoke or cop a feel in some girl's bed.   
They tune the radio to this summer's song   
and cruise into the yet-to-exhale lung   
of August night. Nothing to do but this.   

These are the times they'd never dream they'll miss—   
the hour spent chasing a party long burned out,   
graphic imagined intercourse with Denise.   
This is all they can even think about,   
and thankfully, since what good would it do   
to choke on madeleines of   temps perdu    
when so much time is set aside for that?   

Not that their fathers weaken with regret   
as nighttime settles in—no, their wives   
are on the phone, the cooler has Labatt   
to spare; at nine the Giants play the Braves.   
There may be something to romanticize   
about their own first cars, the truths and lies   
they told their friends about some summer fling,   

but what good is it now, when anything   
recalled is two parts true and one part false?   
When no one can remember just who sang   
that song that everybody loved? What else?   
It doesn't come to mind. The sprinkler spits   
in metronome; they're out of cigarettes.   
Roger folds up his chair, calls it a day.   

The stars come out in cosmic disarray,   
and windows flash with television blues.   
The husbands come to bed, nothing to say   
but   'night . Two hours late—with some excuse—   
their sons come home, too full of songs and girls   
to notice dew perfect its muted pearls   
or countless crickets singing for a mate.

Source: Poetry (August 2004).

 Dave  Lucas


Dave Lucas received a 2005 Discovery/The Nation Prize. He is a doctoral student in English at the University of Michigan and reviews poetry for the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

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Poems by Dave Lucas

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Midlife, Living, Cities & Urban Life, Social Commentaries, Gender & Sexuality, Home Life, Relationships, Coming of Age

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza, Pastoral

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