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  • Writer's pictureBulb Culture Collective

Walking To Work by Michael Rogner

Unhurried in a realm below the acorn woodpeckers

hoarding their harvest I try not to think

of their bright clown faces while eating

their own babies though I’m not working so my mind

is mine and I can think in any direction – walking to work

when I don’t want to work I can think of Steinbeck

sailing into San Diego Bay to get a haircut and asking

the navy gunner if he ever thinks of families

at the far end of his bombs and then sailing past dolphins

and their winking blowholes on his way to Mexico for work –

the park is frozen and I shuffle more the closer

I come, past the swimming hole where the dead man

turned up dead last week and what he would

give to be working right now or walking to work

or thinking of Steinbeck sailing with his dead friend

working over rocks in tide pools and collecting whatever

was on the other side but instead he’s drowned dead in Chico

and Steinbeck’s friend is dead by the tracks

and Steinbeck died in New York City for fuck’s sake

where the thrushes only sing in summer

and in a box he sailed home to Salinas

on a boat with no red light atop the mast

which has a name I don’t know and holds the job

of keeping this world of strangers alive

Originally published by Barrow Street 2020

Michael Rogner is a restoration ecologist, self-taught poet, and husband battling stage IV cancer. His work appears or is forthcoming in Willow Springs, Minnesota Review, Crab Creek Review, Moon City Review, and elsewhere.


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