Three Poems

Cheryl Clark Vermeulen

The Gate

The keeper hadn’t thought up the gate
and its upkeep maddened the rods
that favor rust. A man took pause

to watch, coaxing a few words
from its grid and decor. Close
to a bedtime story he lifted

his son up to the latch and in kinship
alleged a chain link fence, a creak.

“The more ambulant you are, the more
suspicious people become. No matter
if you name a constellation or collect

applause, you may be caught unsung
hunkering over a pitfall again.”

Can I seek recourse from a gate?
A? gate. The distance in his words
surprised him.


                    Rarely do I stay

in one place. I’ll take the blame
but stuff it in a passing parade

and yell to the crowd
you are the whore for where

and I am not. If you are
a whore for where and I am not

how would we go on with our being
grown-up? How it demands

that one is primarily the one
to calm the self, to turn misfortune

restlessly unsure into rest assured—
not perpetual

as in the business of eternal rest—
but here we are for now

wildflowers of skin, placeholders
of sound, stopgaps for belonging

as people push in at the window, their
smushed faces mouth, come outside?

“No, I have a small, sick boy’s
life to live.”

Bricked-in Window

The unsettled neither

Not a brick wall nor a window
Another seam

tucked in the alley and under
the sky that fringe

of smudged cement
a meager ledge of nothing more

but bricks—a sore spot.

How fortunate to be sore.

Found a missing corkscrew
wound up in my curls, exactly

a deliberate filling in. The close
proximity of another

building once seen through

a need for you. Outside
how the neighbors have been

bleeding into each other