Long Gone, But Not Yet


An olive tree perfuming the sea breeze

with jasmine—that’s where I want to sit


before warming my feet in the autumn surf

or brushing butter on scallops searing


on the Frigidaire grate passed down

three generations that rusted through


only last year. I dug the pit. No one but me

shoved the shattered hunks of concrete


into the damp grit. Burn what you like

in there, it burns long into the night


& there’s nothing like snarfing charred

morsels of what you & you alone


have caught or dug. Go where the air

itself feeds you, that’s my advice


& fondest hope, sad to say. To wedge

into the lowest crook of an ancient,


inexplicable tree & ponder the magpies

who must think the water desert


or else why would they mutter

in the dune grass? To not mow or clip


this tiny lot. To leave the loud

clothes behind & the bellowed


shopping lists & the battalions

of beery jesters & their thousands


of dogs. To not drive or ride the bus

or fear the war burning toward the border.


Oh, I’d climb down soon enough.

I’d wet my feet in the froth


& walk up to where the scrub pines

rustle & seep. I’d schlep plenty,


grumble, groan, wish myself elsewhere,

even there, but I swear, one snug room


is all I need. By the time the sand

melts into glass, I’ll be long gone.




When Bill had

                   four days left,

                                    a woman stood


at the foot of the bed.

                      They spoke & he told

                                          me about it, but wouldn’t say


what they’d said & smiled

                              when he said it. I said I didn’t

                                                  understand & Bill said how much


he’d miss butter-pecan ice cream,

                                 how nothing could bring him

                                                           more pleasure than a bowl


of butter-pecan ice cream.



September, 2013

***A native of the Pine Barrens region of southern New Jersey,  John Repp has lived for many years in northwestern Pennsylvania. His most recent collection is Fat Jersey Blues, winner of the 2013 Akron Poetry Prize from the University of Akron Press.***


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