December 3, 2016

Three Poems by Andrew Harmon: "Dreams in the Cold," "Sherpa House -- Golden, Colorado," and "Spokey Dokey"

Andrew Harmon was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana. He received his B.A. in Creative Writing from IUPUI.  He has worked in warehouses and hotels, fast food and retail. He says, "Throughout this all, I’ve stowed away snippets of imagery which has found itself emerging in the uneven lines of these poems." His book, “Human Hearts. Human Heads,” is available on Amazon.

Dreams in the Cold

Though I am landlocked in the quilt-patch collage of corn and shaggy Midwest soy,
on cold days I stand still and pull my coat tight around the trunk of me,
carefully conjuring up breaths of white vapor that lull in the brittle air,
dreaming I stand on the bow of some steel-bellied ship and
stare down its jib-boom into the icy waters of the Arctic where we men hunt
king crab or halibut or cod threading through the freezing black sea
like slivers of shining copper. There’s something about stillness and cold,
about clouds of solemn mist billowing off the lips
that forces a man to brood, as if recalling the hardship of treacherous adventures
in remote locales—the kind of adventures that end in coconut fronds, brown-eyed girls,
the warmth of the sun tingling on your knuckles. The kind of adventures that begin
at blue-eyed rookies, hardened old-timers, and secret villains.
And everything between is cold and dark, cold and dark, cold and dark—grizzled
beards draped in frost, waves roaring and crashing on frigid steel,
cold and dark, and villains showing their hand under the yellow beam
of a fog light cutting through the cold and cutting through the dark.
But my own adventures are composed of the domestic: shaving ice from windshields,
stomping my boots clean on black ergonomic mats, and standing,
in those fleeting moments behind the receiving doors,
watching my breath, tightening myself against the cold, and dreaming
of glaciers collapsing into cold, dark seas.

Sherpa House - Golden, Colorado

A prayer wheel stood in its spindled pagoda outside the crimson face
of a residence-turned-restaurant. Bright flags lined the yard: yellow, green,
and blue banners dancing in the wind.
Black trim framed the door-- which I would later read is a traditional means
by which Tibetans keep unsavory spirits stranded at the threshold.
No surprise then, that I asked to sit on the patio despite the unseasonable chill in the air
and the blanket of grey clouds stretching high above Table Mountain
and its great white letter “M” etched into the slopes, handiwork of the miners’ college
at the edge of town. The foothills of the Rockies made for a less surly surrogate
for the Himalayas; the Sherpa House sat atop a small ridge in a gift-shop town
west of Denver.

I sat under one of the red-topped umbrellas dotting the patio,
only a handful of patrons already entrenched at their tables
under the worrisome overcast. The menu--to me a Frankenstein stitching together
of southern Chinese and Indian; curries, fried rice, lentils, naan. The scent of coriander and garlic,
wood-fire stoves and floral broths. My server delivered a stew of dumplings
and tender yak meat.
In my mind there was nothing filed under yak
except National Geographic images of massive furred beasts--
mop tops, matted bangs hanging over a labor animal’s empty eyes,
beasts of burden--skinny children scrambling over their mountainous shoulders--
struggling under the yoke of leather, split logs, and bags of dry rice,
determined hooves dug into splintered shale on some cliffside path’s
narrow lip.

I felt the first drop fall on my knuckles. The sky relented
and rain came trickling into the world, barely a sprinkle at all,
really, more like an unfortunate cloud of mist laid victim to gravity--a sly dampness caught red-handed attempting to sneak across the peaks and dragged back down
to the green world below.
But it was the cold that sent everyone besides me fleeing inside.
I remained, the sole fool sat stubborn against the drizzle. Steam curling
off the surface of my yak stew,
beads of rain sliding down the umbrella,
dripping on my shoulders and down my back.

Spokey Dokey
 (inspired by the work of Yoko Kanno & the Seatbelts, Cowboy Bebop Original Soundtrack)

I want to live the sort of story that starts with a long shot of a silhouette coming into focus
against a setting desert sun. Sand whipping robes fettered with dusty cord and gnarled twine.
A hood casting shadows across my face, shielding pink skin from wind and searing heat.
In my wake, a trail of blurred footsteps stretching miles back across empty dunes. A sojourner crossing seas of arid badlands,
trudging from one no-name nowhere to the next.
Final destination not yet decided; hardly relevant.
Seeking something, maybe shucking a sordid past. The kind of saunter suitable
only to a listless harmonica sawing out serrated riffs, lazy fingertips strumming loose guitar strings. Slow music that constrains the immensity of secrets and prophecies inside.
I want to crawl on my belly thirsting for the salvation of cool water and shade.

© Andrew Harmon

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