Steve Moore

The Colossus and the Poet

Your lungs draw all the air out of the room
The walls look like they’re in need of a drink
And the waitress is a soviet spy sent from
The past before the Berlin Wall collapsed

We’re all imaginary characters here, or
Maybe I’m Henry Miller and you’re Charles
Bukowski, and the waitress isn’t a spy but
A refugee from the nearby college where

She majored in Women’s studies and alchemy
For three semesters and then she went mad
And you tell me that the walls are mad that
They’re here to hang you up by your feet

The floor gently swoons under the weight
Of your indignation, or was it my sarcasm?
The televisions are drunken angels masquerading
As syphilitic whores from the nineteen-twenties

They’re saying, forget the world and come
Live up here with us and everyone will admire
Your beauty, or the beauty reflected in your
Eyes, and no one can hear us talking but

The giant in the corner who sells his art here
To unsuspecting travelers and snores in
Coffee and breathes charcoal dust and scratches
At his legs that don’t work and his beard

Extends dangerously close to the ceiling fans
And we laugh at the thought of it getting snagged
And him swirling around and around like
A titan caught in the grip of something even

More unfathomable, some elemental force
Of the world, and it is when you tell me that
Beautiful doesn’t exist that the tables and books
And paintings all come alive and dance like

Indian Maidens before a crowd of missionaries and
The Espresso Machine reaches out and swallows
Whole the dreams of the waitress who never offered
Us a refill, and there are tears in your eyes that

No one can see, and Irrelevance is at the window
With cup in hand, wanting more of our quarters
And dimes and ideas and whatever we can spare and
Fear becomes euphoria for one instantaneous moment

And our thoughts begin to run free like a stampede
Of white buffalo overturning the periodicals and
Souvenir coffee cups and wooden savage who guards
The pastries, and poetry should be wild you tell me

And you should never be able to do more than catch
The tail of it, and maybe ride it, no saddle, no reins
But you coupled with it as if by accident, as if in a
Moment when your arms happen to coincide with its neck

And then fall face first into the dirt, and I fear that
You are mad and someone is reading my thoughts and then
The doors and windows take you away from me, or the
Windows take you, not the doors, but the windows.


Steve Moore grew up in North Carolina, but since first leaving for grad school has wondered relentlessly around North America and Europe. He and his family currently reside in Carrollton GA, where he teaches math and physics, writes poetry and fiction and tries to keep track of two precocious kids.

previous poem | next poem
issue index