Douglas Basford

Call her a bore, if you like, or a boor,
but sound has a way of coercing sense
into bottlenecks worse than your parents
find late in the day driving to the Eastern Shore.

You'll hear about it later. You can be sure
images your mother half-absorbed--goldfinches,
drab bramble, wafer sun--will come. Clairaudience
of your eye, let's call it, keeps your eye turned

out the car window when the traffic's stock-still,
with nothing much to hear, no road noise, essence
of life distilled down to siblings squabbling
in a backseat ahead, to a few drunks stumbling
out past the shoulder and back. Something pinches
after you and misses. Reasons to speak dwindle.






I used to play soccer on a team sponsored by Dnipro, the Ukranian social club in downtown Baltimore. After games we'd head to its clubhouse, a three-story gray-formstone rowhouse, whose first floor had nothing more than a pool table, photographs of previous years' teams, and--up a couple of steps--a sizable bar, stocked only with what you brought with you. Occasionally the old guard of Ukranian men would come by, congratulating or consoling us, one time bringing a huge glass jar of homemade pickles. The idea was not to eat the pickles but to down a shot of vodka followed immediately by a shot of pickle juice. For all I can remember it may have been on that particular occasion that a couple of my teammates recounted one fateful journey to Ocean City (the MD branch, not NJ): getting caught in a traffic snarl on the way and polishing off their substantial stash of beer while waiting, darting out of the car when nature called. Add random bits from car trips past, including a wedding anniversary trip, shake and serve in a martini glass.