Two Poems by Joseph Radke
The Doppler Effect

I. Approach
I hit town like a falling star.
Burnt out. All the things of a life
lived so far packed into three
black bags that spun among the cases
of carefully packed vacation wear
and unclean clothes coming home.

I dragged them to the trunk
of an unwashed cab. The unwashed,
hara-kiri cabbie sped me
toward the bright smog of the city
where you live.

II. Inflection
Afternoon hooky: we lay
on a blanket surrounded
by mild summer,
maples and elms.
I kissed you here
and there.

We drank wine from plastic cups,
listened to the sound
of the Mississippi
mixed with bridge traffic,
looked at the sky scarred
only by the trails of jets
departing or on final approach.
You told me how
you measured love
in pain.


Eight o'clock. August evening
cooled to tolerable. Pale light
clinging to relenting air, aided
by the artificial leaking from
living rooms, dropping from light posts.

Autumn comes nightly, half way. A few
steps closer every time. A timid
animal baited to my backyard.
Trained but never tamed. Soon it will eat
out of my hand.

Joseph Radke