WATCHING THE PERSEIDS, Jed Myers. Sacramento Poetry Center Press, 1719 25th St., Sacramento CA, 95816, 84 pages, $15 paper, http://www.sacramentopoetrycenter.com/.
Speaking of independent bookstores, I purchased Watching the Perseids at BookTree in Kirkland, Washington, after attending a workshop and reading given by no other than Jed Myers himself. The poems are about Myers’s father, but they are also about memory and families and music and baseball and our desire to revisit the ineffable past.
Here is the title poem:
Watching the Perseids
The broadcast’s breaking up in static–
solar flares, snow, ozone
fluctuations, I don’t know.
Should I care? I can still play the message
my phone captures one year back–
“No Time for Love“–he sings
the refrain in that same boyish tone
I’d heard come out of him over a steak,
or climbing the bleachers to our seats,
my hand in his, before
a night game at Connie Mack. Even
on his way out in the cold in the dawn
to catch the train, singing whatever
he said–his brisk See ya lat-er!
down the steps. See ya to-night!
Singing the tireless dance of his life–
he left no time in it for the quiet
closeness of watching the Perseids
or the river from its banks, the fire’s
sparks disappearing into the dark….
Not until it was near the time
for hospice, to never again know
where he was. Those last hours on his own
bed, I’d lie beside him and we’d sing
whatever old tune came into either
one of our heads. Quiet.
Like watching the tide.
Now, his music is drowning
in surf-sound. My brain’s magic
receiver is shorting out. Or is it
the train I hear, him on it, still
singing, voice going remote
in the clatter and hiss? Has he lifted
the ticket out of his coat pocket,
handed it over to the conductor,
and sat back, softly sounding out
Lullaby of Birdland? I can wonder,
try to hear his voice in the white noise
between my ears, while he travels
like the seasoned commuter he was
to that city past the meteors, out
past the planets, in the stars.