Three Poems

Kochanski’s, Saturday Night

One more going-away
bash for a friend,
Afghanistan-bound, and the last thing
he wants is to hear some
peacenik strum. So up I shut,
and stick to seltzer,
as snowflakes fall with neutral


outside the bar. No windows.
Snow’s too soft to cut
the chill, too gentle to kill
the one-armed drunk guy’s engine.
Off he roars. 
Oh, Lord. 
To say the whole army
is stupid and wrong
is stupid and wrong, surely. 
Walt Whitman thought he could heal
amputees with poetry. All I know
is when to leave a party.

Snow Birds

My parents’ new
Palm Springs neighbor
is a “birther,” raving about the president’s
un-American ancestors.
His condo walls are sprayed

with a nubby white texture
as if the earth were a golf ball
moving in a straight line,
instead of a wobble—
as if all birth were not veiled,

sacred, and unfathomable.
The neighbor clutches his printouts:
Obama comes from Kenya.
He can’t stop talking
long enough to remember

the grasslands where we humans learned to run—
how it felt to chase
long shadows cast
by our African father,
the sun.


Milwaukee County Courthouse

I don’t want to pay all
the parking tickets my junkie

handyman racked up
using my car while I was in Asia

on a Fulbright fellowship,
but hey! The judge says his wife

also did a Fulbright,
“had a fantastic time,”

and packed her white privilege
as a carry-on. It was over-sized.

The airline didn’t charge her
a dime. The judge signs

my petition to dismiss,
not glancing at the paperwork,

because my face and hands
and hipster glasses frames

make it easy to pronounce
my name without thinking.

—Angela Sorby, Milwaukee, WI