The HyperTexts

Kevin Walzer

Kevin Walzer, in addition to being a published poet and having a Ph.D. in English from the University of Cincinnati, is one of the founders of WordTech Communications. Publishing through Word Press and other imprints, WordTech Communications has grown into a major force in poetry publishing with plans to publish more than 40 books in 2004. Kevin has published three books of literary criticism and has had poetry published in Connecticut Review, Sparrow, Poetry Magazine, and other journals.

Father Feeding
for David

The warming suck. The breath
of him as milk holds health
in store. The steady rock
against my chest, a clock
that measures time as now
alone, the where and how
and why irrelevant,
this rhythm innocent.

First published in Connecticut Review

Graduate, Defined

verb: to mark with degrees of measurement

At three, I walked into the newsroom, bleary.
I had gotten three hours of fitful sleep.
But I felt great—my happiness went deep;
I'd just received a doctoral degree
earlier in the day, before my shift.
Just call me Doctor Kevin, I wanted to say.
My entire family had come, with smiles and gifts.
I beamed with pride. This was a wonderful day.
Turning the computer on, I felt a tap
on my back, a gravelly mutter: "We need to talk."
Dennis's voice always came like a slap,
my boss, the gruff copy chief. We walked
to the cramped conference room where I'd been hired.
He closed the door behind him. "Look, I know
you do your best, but you crawl. The newsroom's wired
for speed, and we can't afford to let you grow.
We have to let you go. Your final pay
is being sent to your home. You'll have it soon."
I thought of nothing to say but thanks, a way
of saving face, to leave without a swoon
or fists. I left, briefcase in hand, and found
a payphone near my car. I trembled and called
my wife, my mom and dad, who'd seen me bound
on stage to find this other end, this fall
from grace, completely into unemployment.
The graduate had graduated down
to what I faced: no job, my measurement
precise, a zero sum, an empty crown.

A Year after Earning the Ph.D.

One letter in the box. The envelope
is thin, too light to carry any hope.
I find what I expect: a polite letter.
My background's good, but someone else is better.
I close the mailbox door, and close my life
—this part, at least. The promise I made my wife:
this search for a teaching job would be my last.
Now what? The self I know has, suddenly, passed.

After Arguing Over the Best Way to Wash Dishes

He slept, or tried to sleep. There was no way
he was going to sleep. His wife was fast asleep;
there slept his insomnia's source. Not her. The steep
anger he felt at her sleep, her peace. She stayed
anger with silence and calming thought, alone.
He wanted to fight, to talk and reach to her.
He wanted to find forgiveness, and would prefer
to find it now. But he saw her gentle tone: 
her quiet breath fluttered the sheet that touched
her nose. He let his anger begin to melt
and lay back down, to try and calm himself.
He had to give her sleep. He owed her that much.
The anger still ached, but less, a fading welt
no heavier now than dust blown off a shelf.

First published in Sparrow

Resurrection Working

Notre Dame Basilica, Montreal

Though scaffolds shadow gods and saints
of stone worn smooth by sun and rain,
the vaulted blue inside the dome
may still create a humbling home
where kneelers fill the pews with prayer
and clasped hands. Stirring the air,
tourists mill. Their cameras flash
against the altar, silence crashed.
The patron saints observe and lurk
in corner candle-shadows' murk
where offered coins allow the light
to rise from the candles, offering sight
of sign—Your gift preserves our church
a tottering sign about to lurch
though a spirit remains, calm and stilled,
as faith demands and humans build.

First published in Connecticut Review

The HyperTexts