Tom Boswell is a community organizer, photographer and freelance journalist residing in Evansville, Wisconsin. His poetry has appeared in Rattle, Poet Lore, The Potomac Review, The Dos Passos Review, Two Thirds North and other journals. He has won national contests judged by Luis Alberto Urrea, Robert Cording and Tony Hoagland.
Midwestern Heart (Codhill Press, 2011), winner of the 2011 Codhill Poetry Chapbook Award, is available through various vendors including SUNY Press, Powell’s Books and Amazon, as well as some local bookstores, the author, or at codhill.com/boswell_mid-heart.html.
Black is the color of my true love
I wish to see the streets swell
with these earnest Americans, knowing
full well that the larger the crowd,
the more alone I will feel.
Today I stand in the shadows watching
the young ones dressed in black,
their ragged black flag fluttering
in February’s breeze, as they march by
Beating on plastic buckets like bratty children.
I am old enough to be their father
and would not expect them to invite
me inside their clubhouse, even if I dared
Ask, but my dark and brooding heart
heaves with joy to see them break ranks
and spoil the neat plans of my friends,
who want only to hand themselves over,
Politely, to the police and be led away
in quiet pairs without having bothered
to disturb the peace. In this country
that is not mine, these young Americans
Dressed in black are the nearest thing
to beauty that I know, yet I will put on
a tie when I mean to make trouble,
resigned to never know how they come by
Their brand of anarchism, and they will never
know my father Good man who, like me,
often stood sulking in these shadows,
watching the young and pretty ones,
Wishing only to be of use, hungering
for a home in this alien world,
wanting only to sew and fly a simple flag
with no colors that no one need salute.
First appeared in the Minnesota Review
The Catalpa in June
It’s all so fast, so fleeting, so perverse
the way the Catalpa blooms, then shrugs off
its profligate white bouquets each June.
Soon they fill the lawn, to be followed
later by the long pods resembling abandoned
snake skins, then finally the enormous
heart-shaped leaves. All this beauty spent,
relinquished, for what? Leaving for work,
I back my car onto the street, marveling
at all this waste each summer. On the sidewalk
is a woman of indeterminate age, hair
draggled like scraggly weeds, an infant
clinging to her hip. At her side, a girl with long,
dark, luxurious hair. She is beautiful.
Her eyes catch mine, then look away.
This family—I surmise—lives in one of these
shabby duplexes—with bare wood and tattered
tarpaper—scattered among the Victorians.
The girl could be a model or a debutante,
if only she came from money. But money
doesn’t grow on trees. Only white flowers
that fade, then fall, too fast, each June.
First appeared in Blue Earth Review