Bart Galle


Two boys outside the bookstore, smoking
on a cold spring day. Their long scarves
swing back and forth as they move their feet
from spot to spot, as if no place will have them.

Their faces are fresh, and they laugh
at things they say and spit occasionally,
watching it with some interest. I can't help
but love them and have the urge

to wish them well in their struggle.
When one of them leans back and yawns,
I can almost picture it tipping into
an existential howl, but instead I am reminded

of my cockatiel, stretching her wings dramatically
when I walk in the door, as if to say to me,
I haven't missed you. I've been sleeping
the whole time you've been gone.

Your Painting of an Iris, Unfinished

I'd like to say the blossom is there
without the supporting structure;
that, typical of youth,
there was a rush to fulfillment,
followed by a loss of interest.
But no.
The leaves and stems are complete
and carefully rendered
in icy blue-greens
and mottled ochres. A bud
is finished, as is a lesser flower
in the lower right
designed to balance
the full one in the upper left.
That's the one left undone.
The outer petals are finished,
some in a saturated purple,
others in a pale blue wash,
but the heart of it is blank,
just penciled in, a gaping hole
right where our eyes
are forced to go.