Poems by John Repp

Of Pine Street

A confused tenderness, like a dimly bluish windowpane/Sings old songs… 
Fernando Pessoa (as Àlvaro de Campos)

Of Pine Street I sing, the impossible one frying eggs & toasting toast
she brings me on the warm steps an October Saturday, mug of coffee
set between my bare feet, front windows rattling in the wind,
porch swing squeaking on its eye bolts, chains jingling, Greg out back
in his jungly garden, the impossible one no longer that, balancing
a plate on her own knees now, two strangers not strangers but new.
Grateful & shy, what can I say but small things? Old music washes
through the screen door, stuff she cooks to when she cooks.

Where was she born? Where was I? What about journeys & visions
& were there brothers, sisters? How hard has it been, or easy?
I’ve heard that song before & want more such harmony, the organist
making everything a circus, but not too loud, for the neighborhood
is quiet, rain-forest green & full of sunflowers. Is water as hard here
as where I live a little south? If she makes an answer, I can’t hear it.

The Chore

I happen to know this room’s ceiling
cost $4000. Two weeks after the check cleared,

the upstairs toilet leaked. The stain remained
for more than a year till I couldn’t stand

seeing it anymore during the reveries
I feast on, so I rolled two coats of the wrong

shade of white over the moldy blotch,
but at least the job was done. This room sees

reveries with enviable blankness. Even through
incense smoke, light shuttles across the ceiling.

No Longer

If one were cultivated, solitary & Portuguese
aboard an iron freighter in the Suez Canal
on a windless day the spring of 1914,

it would be easy to practice one’s schoolroom
English on the English cartographer & his wife,
daughter of a Swedish woodworker retained

by the Earl of Shropshire. A Portuguese architect
bored with the buildings of Old Europe, afraid
of Moorish materials, intrigued by the bazaars

of Tripoli, enthralled with everything Castilian,
in love with a second cousin criminally young,
one would relish the sumptuous accommodations

this odd ship offers for those able to pay.
Painted blue & black but for yellow stacks,
she lies becalmed between banks teeming

with activity better ignored in such stimulating
company, what one was the previous day
what one is no longer.

Raking Acorns

My shoulders have become burly again,
so burly I can lift the toy shovel
heaped with acorns & dead bits of moss

with one arm, then, as if throwing
a screwball, jerk my wrist to dump
everything into the barrel nearly tall

as my wife. I’m the fiercest hunter
in the tribe when she says You’ve really
gotten in shape raking acorns. Someone robbed

the people on the corner. I thanked Carol
for the news, resolved to commiserate
with the Perry’s & reviewed our deadbolt

situation as I worked. The oak we’ll never
cut down has borne a bumper crop
our crows stumble through as they plump 

on the table scraps we toss out the front door
each morning. That’s a lot of news before noon
here where it remains possible to rest.

John Repp

About the Author
John Repp is a poet, fiction writer, essayist, and book critic. His most recent book is Fat Jersey Blues, published in 2014 by the University of Akron Press. ( www.johnreppwriter.com )