Poetry- Honorable Mention

So we had this little argument about nothing
after reading: there wasn’t a smell of lilacs
or something like that, and you said it’s how
to write about absence and I said make the absence
make me a lilac the way there isn’t a train running
now through this room, but if the poem says
metal on metal or worn brown suitcase, I want
the train and its tracks and the station
with a small town’s name. If the poem says
ghosts or seagull gray or emptiness
along a cold scrim of sand, where do you want to be?
I want to be the space in the chest
where the ocean was. And the November wind
on the wharf, the fried clams and the train that wasn’t
that we rode to get there. There was a train.
Maybe there was. It’s the trick emptiness plays.
Or lilacs. And windows. And wasn’t
there once some old May on a pillow?
Here, in the middle of this poem I want
dogbarks of geese, bare anatomy of oaks
and all the yellow you can give me. I want a bedroom
that used to be, an orange suitcase in the corner
and a sticker from Hong Kong that I’ve never seen.
A trick of light, like how my mother is gone
and I never get over it. Or the way the winter days
are only hours long and you push
all your living into a few small lit windows
air jammed with love and Saturday nights
that might have or might have not.
How a prayer thin as smoke carries its weight.
I want the wanting. That’s all there is to it.
I want the sitting under a white pine
and you or a poem telling how it is and isn’t.
And if it’s raining. And how can the café miss us
when we don’t show up, rain traveling down
the windows where we aren’t together
arguing about nothing.

Jeanie Tomasko is the author of Sharp as Want (Little Eagle Press), a poetry/artworks collaboration with Sharon Auberle, Tricks of Light (Parallel Press) and the e-chapbook, If I Confess Before 5:00 (Right Hand Pointing). Recent work appeared in The Midwest Quarterly, Right Hand Pointing and Rattle. Her story/poem (Prologue,) is the recipient of an Editor’s Choice award from Concrete Wolf Chapbook Series, and will be published in the fall of 2014.