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Lent 18

Lent 18



I romanticize

Apologies for that that

I think we need to give ourselves

A pause

And a chance

For something good


Deserving of so many

Repentance for the rest

Then everyone can have


Color, sound, texture

In life

To have it fully

With safety in



There’s more, of course

And that’s all right

Ask not what the heaven’s for

But how is life on

Earth today


C L Couch



Suburbia ved Tranberg på Gjøvik

Øyvind Holmstad – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,


Advent at 1806 President Drive

Advent at 1806 President Drive

(Advent, maybe anytime)


I don’t know the count

Of Advent, anymore

I’m tired

And the days don’t match the dates

This is why we have the calendars,

I guess

Except they count out December

Their Advents always twenty-five


Ours had images

Years later I found out about the chocolate

But, you know,

I rather like the pictures

(there was chocolate, anyway

and cookies, cookies, cookies)

The last portrait was Santa

In a kind of glory of arrival

And within the dates somewhere

There was the holy family


Hey, we got these at the mall

They taught us anticipation

Maybe not well

(considering the clientele)

But with persistence


Each day was in a tiny box

With perforated shutters

I think the five of us took turns

In trying to pierce

And leave the day intact


Hard for impatience

The season’s and the child’s

But we made it

Our little house inside

The bigger house,

Our fortunes read each day

For Christmas

Yes, it was suburban

There were snow days, too

Chains on the tires of the family car

Fluffed, cottony bunting

On which my mother placed

Plastic sleigh, plastic reindeer, plastic Santa

I remember these fondly

All atop

The console of

Our first color television


Oh, my


C L Couch



Gellinger / 3272 images





I was waiting

Under the roof of our bus stop,

A structure built of brick

And heavily painted many times

A weekday afternoon, after school

The PAT bus arrived and I got


The bus moved on the winding

Way that was Mount Royal Boulevard

Downhill through Etna

Onto the Ohio River road

Crossing the Allegheny on

The George Washington Bridge

Downtown in Pittsburgh

I left the bus through folding

Doors near

Mellon Center

Walked to the Alcoa Building then inside

To find my father in

His office on an upper floor


We had dinner somewhere in

The city

Then walked to the Stanley Theatre


A showing of Kubrick’s 2001

Seventy m-m on a screen

That was maybe silver


I was thirteen; it was my birthday

The movie plot was long

And deliberately enigmatic

I liked the

Sci-fi scenes

And then it was all over

All of it

There would never be another day like that


I suppose

Suburban adventures

Don’t happen

Like this anymore

Too far, too dangerous

Too much for one child to negotiate

But on that day

Nothing bad took place

And my year turned

Just the same


C L Couch


On the Cusp of a Nor’Easter (prose poem)

On the Cusp of a Nor’Easter
(prose poem)

So my friend calls from Indiana. I tell her of my sister’s new job. I am relieved and happy, because my friend’s been struggling with sufferings that would drive me mad. She sounds well and has a chance to tell me some about her family on her way to church to help lead (in technical matters) a Bible study there. It is cold here. It is colder there (single-digit degrees for many days). When she must ring off, she does. I am at the coffeemaker and place the backside of the phone on a spiral burner on the stovetop (everything turned off). While the coffee’s cooking, I clean out some plastic bottles into which I put tap water to drink throughout the day. Not thinking at first, I place the cleaned-out bottles just outside the burner circle set upon the stove. When I’ve done this four times, I have four empty bottles cornering a phone set on a burner plate of labyrinthine form. I’m sure there is a deity for winter (generally, Persephone, though I’m thinking there’s one for winter only), and have I not built a small, strange contemporary altar to her. A narrow receiver (wireless) offered up inside four plastic monoliths keeping in their stillness their own kind of sentinel watching. Is this supplication? I want my friend to be well. I want her husband to enjoy retirement and her daughter have success at school. I want the cold to move on, over there, though for a Midwest winter season, I guess what is endured is rather normal. (Still too cold.) My temps in southern Pennsylvania still have two digits. But we are called to be ourselves storm-ready against a coming, miles-wide soon-arriving gale. It smacks the South and later rounds out to sea—on the way releasing slivering ice and snow and the season’s other dangers onto our regional metropoles: D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York. And in my small town? I pray for navigable roads. In my small place, I pray for electricity’s constancy—that it might faithfully provide sufficient heat in rapport with the thermostat. And now I guess I wait. We wait. I clear the stove and leave on the burner now a single cup, ready for coffee. The empty ceramic vessel a suburban symbol of encouragement and also, I think, of supplication.

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