The Conversation; Expeditions; For Those of You; Glass Canyons at Night; Private Landscapes, Iced Desires


they talked through lunch and the better part of the afternoon and again
late that night but what he focused on as she spoke was not the subject lines
say the boat or her mother’s second marriage but rather his wife’s innuendos

and what may have been veiled disclosures of a reoccurring fear
underlying her hesitations and implied in what she said about a gift
about the green ceramic vase what she said about a child
or perhaps herself when she was a child someone something that followed her
the year her brother died there were allusions to something she had done
or thought of doing early in their marriage never revealed

but what he was left recollecting to himself during dinner much to his surprise
were the initial years of his adoration when did he last tell her
he absolutely adores her still as to the conversation itself it filtered through
as scatterings that disturbed the air put a drag onto long afternoons that followed

until he knew how to focus past fears and innuendos expecting soon that he’d find
the holes and gaps and crevices where an unknown sense of her falls through
lost to his view spins a counternarrative of her life entwined with the one
he thought he knew

hence the look in her eyes her distant fixation she’s searching for something
but nothing to be found her discomfort with the most innocuous things
and why so many solo excursions and why so few explanations

and the reality it’s all a stretch it’s his own detective fiction it’s overlaid
onto their ordinary lives yet in all of this why something like traces of suspense
or should he even say hauntings distressing him and leaving her undeterred
and no answer but an intuition of his odd inborn ignorance

and what else to say the words that are left unspoken a negative image
between shadows they cast something wrong that cannot be named
the part of each soul that rises unbreachable a citadel of solitude


An American Poem in Three Vignettes
Written for a Protagonist and Two Minor Characters

He is in the midst of the Great American Prairie.
He starts to make out the figure of a man.
The figure is one that he sees, so it seems, through time into memory.
The figure is walking through tall grass, through virgin grasslands.
Through a great inland sea of grass which waves gently in the wind.
And as the figure walks ahead a path forms behind.
It is a path made with heavy boots and stoic determination.
He believes he is watching a figure of himself near the start of his journey.
He has tried many times, all unsuccessful, to explain this journey to himself.
To explain why his great expedition failed and never reached its destination.
Soon, the figure of the man and the path—fade, disappear.
So he’s alone again. He sits on prairie sod among stems of green and gold.
And what yields to the wind.

This was in the year he believed he was ancient.


He is out on another plain, equally vast.
This one is rough and barren.
He has a Jeep and a few tools.
He drives, stops, gets out, and walks a ways.
His eyes are darting about. His motion is erratic.
He returns to his Jeep and drives off. He does this repeatedly.
A local man, whom he’s seen before, asks what his intentions are.
He says he’s looking for meteorites. It is a lie. He is looking for his life.

This was in the year he believed he was dying.


It’s another day in the same place.
He drives, stops, gets out, and walks a ways.
A woman who knows him asks what his intentions are.
He goes to his Jeep and brings out a small fabrication.
She’s seen something like it before. He calls it experimental—a drone.
He tells her how it’s tethered by algorithm and by satellite.
He mentions its gyroscope, says its battery’s strong, its readout’s clear.
The woman looks at photos the drone has taken.
She looks at its flight log and tells him what he already knows:
“It can’t track to a point. It can’t find stasis.”

This was on a day he believed all was lost
in the year he believed he was dying.



who have said the same,
how did we know,
what gave us a clue,
that poetry, of all things,
could save us?

not save in the sense
of a nickel saved, or ten per cent,
or in religious terms, as if I meant:
salvation, eternal life.

Yet, truly save us, as from the brink,
as from an apathetic disregard
for words that fall dull or hard
to the ground
without grace.

Truly save us.
Or suspect that it might
or find that it has, in hindsight.

Or that it might, at the very least,
provide a push through inertia,
a slight levitation

in the midst of a slough, a slog, a slump, a slide,
enough to reinvigorate a disintegrating surge,
enough to deflect an incoming siege,
to resist an addictive, all-enveloping urge,

or endow one with greater patience, perspective
in the case of a small



subject (with intuitions): 

where I’m staying tonight
and where, for some hundred-odd years, a few million have lived
vertical lives                  interlaced                if not by an imagined utopia
then by the durable tissues of an urban machine

where I’m looking tonight
and where, when looking out these windows
I see not only streets and facades and glazed canyon walls, but something
I believe                  is in the nature of things
when lives are lived above lives                   and in row upon row upon row
of habitation

I’ll call it, perhaps, a low-grade                    fevered metabolism
maybe a telegraphed resonance of human motion
moving outward into the night       in myriad streaks and shadings
of shifting intensities                  of illumination       from lives lived inside
or from vehicles moving in lines of clear intention
on the floor of the canyon


viewpoint summary:

nocturnal slot canyons           three-night stay
single occupancy                midtown Manhattan
vantage: 22nd floor


note to myself:

a preference before turning in for the night:
a room open wide to the sight               of a city left on for the night


subject (with greater detailed observations):

headlights with sweeping beams of light                 narrow and broad
interrupted by grates grills and gaps                 lines of light
and dots of light cascading                careening off
and trailing down                glass canyon walls simultaneous
with diffuse silent lineages                of rectangular geometries
of low-range brightness                approaching such levels of complexity
that their source in diodes                gas tubes              filaments
that their source in human choice
often remains untraceable                and a matter of faith and conjecture



Heavens fade with steady brush
of slow wash overlaid
atop the sun’s diffuse light.
Layers form, skies become
a thin film of streaked ice.

Clouds emerge;
dark and reddish gray.
They’re sliding by
and closing in
on private spheres.

They are harbingers
of windy alliteration,
of wintry staccato,
of music dispossessed
of consolation.

They usher in unique debilitations
and what manifests as afternoons
of time and sense cessations
when words are felt—dropping
without a voice—from hard skies.

A previous year, a darkening season:
discarded yearnings often found
blown about the frozen ground
or snagged, frayed, wound,
on barren brush and branches
and years ago—severed from intentions.

A future December not long from now:
Clouds are seen—reddish gray.
Rivers of ice have left the mainland.
A small delegation is searching
in boats and planes
for glaciers lost
between islands.



Gary Kruse has been published in the online journal Poetry Now. He has attended the Hart Center poetry workshops sponsored by the Sacramento Poetry Center, a weekend conference sponsored by Poets & Writers magazine, and an advanced poetry writing class taught by poet Susan Kelly-DeWitt. In June 2018,  He was one of five featured poets who read at the Sacramento Poetry Center, and prior to that was a featured poet for a program in Placerville, CA. He graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with an MFA in Stage Design. Gary Kruse has executed numerous commercial designs as well as work for regional and local theaters.