poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

About this Poem 

“Sometimes two people speak to each other across distances of space, time, and character, and actually hear each other. It happens. For the record, by ‘bookkeeping man’ I meant someone who is ‘making book’—the guy who is laying odds, not an accountant.”
David Rivard

Ghosts on the Road

A bookkeeping man,
tho one sure to knock on wood,
and mostly light

at loose ends—my friend
who is superstitiously funny, & always
sarcastic—save once,

after I’d told him
about Simone’s first time
walking—a toddler,

almost alone, she’d
gripped her sweater, right hand
clutched

chest-high, reassured
then, she held on to herself
so, so took a few

quick steps—
oh, he said, you know what? Leonard
Cohen, when he was 13,

after his father’s
out-of-the-blue heart attack, he slit
one of the old man’s

ties, & slipped a
message into it, then buried it
in his backyard—

73 now, he can’t
recall what he wrote—(threadbare
heartfelt prayer perhaps,

or complaint)—
his first writing anyway.
The need to comfort

ourselves is always
strongest at the start,
they say—

do you think
that’s true? my friend asked.
I don’t, he said,

I think the need
gets stronger, he said, it
just gets stronger.

Copyright © 2015 by David Rivard. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2015 by David Rivard. Used with permission of the author.

David Rivard

David Rivard

Born in 1953, David Rivard is the author of Wise Poison, which won the 1996 James Laughlin Award

by this poet

poem
I've died enough by now I trust
just what's imperfect or ruined.  I mean God,
God who is in the stop sign
asking to be shotgunned, the ocean that evaporates even
as we float.  God the bent nail & broken lock,
and God the hangnail.  The hangnail.
And a million others might be like me, our hopes
a kind of
poem

The moon in time lapse sliding over skyline
the way a remote frisbee might wheel through air
as slowly as a banjo once floated across the wide
Missouri River in my

poem
A curtain bellying like a pregnant cloud, warm white
light refracted through a tumbler of peat-smoked scotch—
a scorcher of a day at cooling end, with stupendous berries
to eat in lieu of supper, the scoffed pint box of blueberries
chased by a half of cantaloupe & Maytag blue cheese
spread across the remains