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October 2013, vol 8, no 3

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Glenn G. Coats


My wife is not in the audience tonight. Her eyes are not looking up to remind me to slow down—breathe—pause. She is not here to say your voice is breaking like ice. You are not talking between poems. Don't act like you are in a hurry to leave. Do you ever smile?

I know these people. I attended this high school. The poems that I have chosen are about the day to day life of a teacher. One was inspired by a Bob Seeger song while another is about longing for a snow day. My words are cracking with emotion as if they have been buried long in the heart of a tree. It hurts to talk.

Afterwards, the moderator asks if there are any questions. Mr. Brennan (my high school woodshop teacher) asks, "Don't you ever swat blackflies?" I am frozen by his question. Does he mean, do I just stand still when a swarm of blackflies lands on my arms and face? Does he imagine that I can ignore physical pain? Am I on the wrong track? Does he simply wonder if I take life too seriously? His words are not clear to me.

scent of wood
the simple design
of a cutting board

winter wind
all the thin layers
in plywood