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Two poems

To a Stranger

I come out from behind the walls of my house

and stand in my front yard

and imagine

that the pear tree in bloom is a gift from you.

The street beyond the fence goes both ways

and is completely quiet.

Last evening, I sat next to you on the bus.

You looked sad and incomplete.

Your raincoat promised rain and your purse

held itself shut like a mouth.

When I got up to let you out,

I wondered where we were, glanced all the way

out the window and saw

street signs crossing paths at the top of a pole.

The doors opened and you began walking home.

Maybe there was no one for you

to come home to.


you had nothing in your power

to give but a pear tree in bloom

on a street you have never seen.

You shouldn't have.

A Pop Song

On the radio a woman is singing the line,

"I never meant to hurt you."

In her voice is

a useless sobbing

I've come to believe is

one of the things I breathe in to stay alive.

I don't know, I hate this song

but I desire this woman

to sing to me, to remind me

we hurt each other because we don't

know our own strength.

It must be almost over—she's repeated

"I never meant to hurt you"

so many times it could be the only

line anyone’s ever been given.

The only question is,

this person she never meant to hurt,

how fluid is his life

now that he knows the rain never

meant to strike his eyes

and slide down his cheeks?

I see him pacing back and forth in a garden,

talking to the stone animals,

enduring their closed

throats and ears.

What does he want from her?

He wants her to lead him out of the garden

and pick flowers with him along the side of the road.


Douglas Nordfors is a native of Seattle, and currently lives in Charlottesville, Virginia. He has a BA from Columbia University (1986) and an MFA in poetry from The University of Virginia (1991). He has published poems in journals such as The Iowa Review, Quarterly West, Poetry Northwest, and Poet Lore, and recent work has appeared in Burnside Review, The Louisville Review, Matter, Chariton Review, The Hollins Critic, Potomac Review, Canada Quarterly, 2River, BODY Literature, and others. His two books of poetry are Auras (2008), and The Fate Motif (2013), both published by Plain View Press.

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