Three from Tim Cheeseman

Here are three poems from Tim Cheeseman, a classmate of mine more than a decade ago in the US. I’ll be posting more of his work in the future.

Chickens

The pullets should fear
clear September mornings.
The red elm stump, the keen
hatchet. Death is alive
on the lawn before the sun
climbs over the pasture’s
shag-bark Hickory grove.
Buried in sticky grass,
stony eyes watch
their bodies flail
and flee across the yard.

Morning on the Shelter Porch

The dawn slithers across chipped concrete.
Leaning into warmth, I gulp dense coffee
and watch Willie careen down Hamlet Street,
bay at the sun, abandon his body

and topple against a fire hydrant.
Ronny shifts inside his coat, huddled deep
beneath the hedges. The city’s tenant,
he hugs hidden sneakers, and dreams of sleep.

Francine dawdles by the pay phone, downy
legs like bruised peaches, jimmies off sour
press-on nails that sail in the gutter. She
spit-grooms her brows while thumbing at rush hour.

Morning bloats the city; blinds drawn
like gates. A school bus sneaks through rows
of hung-over houses as the shelter yawns
and ruptures, exhuming daytime’s ghosts.

Waiting on North 4th Street

His hollow veins bicker
as he paces behind
the pay phone, shivering
in August. These streets

are prison. He kneads
the shallow pocket of
his arm like sourdough,
blinking away film

over his eyes. Skittering
behind the noon rush,
he peers down North 4th,
enveloped by exhaust.

Twisting inside his white
T-shirt like a squirrel
in traffic—he mistakes
the severed jangle

of an ice cream truck
for the phone. Pasted
with blanched sugar cones,
it lilts between paralyzed

cars on Hamlet Street.
Children tumble from
listing porches like
stones into a pond.

- All from Ordinary Scripture, copyright Timothy Cheeseman, 2007; used with permission

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