Spring 2012, Volume 12

Poetry by Paul Tayyar

In the Landscape of a Sketchbook
                              Where the Birds Never Fly South For Winter

This morning
I was thinking about a guy I knew who worked in the Trade Center Towers
His wife was expecting twins
And he was there for a two week run of job training for his new gig
As a mortgage broker who would be based in San Francisco
He survived
Because while some of the others he was training with
Were paralyzed with fear
And stayed exactly where they were
He took the back steps two at a time while the firefighters sprinted past him
I was thinking about the first time I saw him after he got home
We were sitting on a bench in the athletic club
Waiting to begin another game of pick–up basketball
He was showing us photos of his little kids
Who were eight weeks old or almost and they were wearing matching
Star Wars pajamas and they had their father’s eyes
When he relayed the story
About what it sounded like when the first plane hit the towers
About how the streets of midtown Manhattan were like something out of one of Those old science fiction films
Where Charlton Heston had to gather the survivors together
And make some kind of plan
We all joked with him
Said we wanted to be standing next to him
If the big earthquake we had all been expecting for decades ever hit the coast
Said we wanted to be driving in the passenger seat of his car
If there was ever some kind of nuclear attack
Told him that we wanted to be swimming in the sea within a few feet of him
Through shark–infested waters after our boat had capsized in a sudden storm
Because he was the closest thing to a real–life Highlander we had ever seen
A Keith Richards of Fountain Valley
We said
A man who couldn’t be killed by God or terrorist attack
Rasputin with a receding hairline
Who ate the bullets of his enemies for breakfast
But later on that evening
As a group of us all walked out into the nightfall of a darkened parking lot
We all shook hands for a little while longer than we ever had before
A few of us even embracing one another before disappearing into our cars
This morning as I thought about my buddy and New York and the mysteries of luck
And hatred, fatherhood and friendship and the swagger that men wrap around
Themselves in order to keep their vulnerability at bay
I sat in front of my sketchbook and drew a symbol of a dove on a plain white piece
Of paper
And looked at it for a long time before putting it away




BIO: My most recent book of poems is Follow the Sun (Aortic Books), and previous collections of mine include Postmark Atlantis (Level 4 Press) and Scenes From A Good Life (Tebot Bach). I am the Founding Editor of World Parade Books, which has published collections by Gerald Locklin, Rafael Zepeda, Donna Hilbert and Edward Field, and I have a PhD in American Literature from UC Riverside.