The Pleasures of Nothing – by S. B. Merrow

Nothing would be this simple again, all of us
muscled and squared up, eyes gone dark, running,
fueled for the trip by a column of Oreos,

a meatloaf sandwich, bottles of Coke
and often, beer. I was good enough,
chored away at the whims of others —

relieved each wastebasket of its teary issues,
mowed some lawns, the blade set @ sterile landscape
—spent the dollars on Patchen and Roszak.

By last period, ready for the rest of our lives,
we hyperventilated to our seats in the band. I played
a baritone horn, my expressway to the moon,

to Anywhere but Here —
to the launchpad of the porch next door,
to orate for friends or pigeons

from its vacant escarpment,
my private stage, a faulty pen my microphone,
stupid with youth.

At the midnight of the year, snow falling
on blackened leaves so cold they felt hot,
we walked on water in the glorious spite

of barefoot flight, shadow-faced in tunnel-light.
Those moments in the wake of Woodstock
when everything went wrong,

we stocked up on the pleasures of nothing,
a need to birth something
more clever than moonlight striking

the awkward sidewalks. And,
once in a while, on a found blanket
at the dew-damp edge of somebody’s

golf course, in the soft pine duff,
we could rub each other just the right way,
then fall asleep on our pillow of arms.

S.B. MerrowS.B. Merrow studied literature and Japanese, then apprenticed as a flute-maker. For years she worked with her hands and ears, crafting and restoring concert flutes for performers, collectors, and conservatories, before returning to her first love, poetry. Her fulllength collection of poems, Everyone A Bell, was published by Kelsay Books in 2020.