poetry by Kenneth Salzmann ± art by Jenny Matthews
When that summer gathered around us
in astonishing waves of need,
denim girls in back seats or slow dancing
to awkward strains from electric guitars
were danger and mystery and power,
every bit as if there were a god.
Unlikely gods spill love or loss or death
across summer waters and cloudless skies
brimming with possibility.
When summer gathered that year,
longhaired boys sipped wine and wonder
in cemeteries hugging silver lakes
while longhaired girls swam naked in the night.
Eyes and lips and soft brown skins washed over
our random plans for sudden change,
almost as if there were a god.
Unlikely gods hurl harsh laughter
when clumsy attempts to touch bind our hands;
unlikely gods stir still waters
by cemeteries hugging silver lakes
when lovers swimming naked in the night
ride astonishing waves of need.
The summer rain falls warm on new lovers,
to bead and pool with salty tears.
Dark-eyed girls with dark hair spread soft against
the moist grasses of small town greens
are danger and mystery and power,
and astonishing waves of need.
Every bit as if there is a god,
we will taste the ways love and death both bleed.
Kenneth Salzmann is a writer and poet whose work has appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines, literary journals and anthologies, including The New Verse News, Rattle, Comstock Review, Child of My Child: Poems and Stories for Grandparents (Gelles-Cole Literary Enterprises), Beloved on the Earth: 150 Poems of Grief and Gratitude (Holy Cow! Press), Riverine: An Anthology of Hudson Valley Writers (Codhill Press), The Heart of All That Is: Reflections on Home (Holy Cow! Press).