Gus Peterson – three poems


We rent a limo to take us
to the dance,

guys jockeying bravado,
girls leaning into each other.

Maybe it was a sly draw
of curl over your ear,

the dark coffee of Cuban eyes
beneath long lashed lids.

Tangle of tongue and cherry lips.
Gown blue as winter sky.

A week from now you’ll be gone.
Who else will remember

your brown hair,
the smell of plum blossoms?

Another Dollar Store

The day before
they break ground
I see a man onsite
digging up lupines.
He’s done this before,
the way he binds
each ache of dusk
and plum in burlap,
a bruise of beauty
secreted away
in the trunk
of an old Subaru
I’ll see parked
the next morning
by a bulldozer.


They come here to wilt
under an endless sun,
caravans of high buckle slacks
clustered in kaleidoscopic groves
of tucked in polo around
oases of sterile pools
and manicured putting green
with names like Valle Verde
or Casa Bonita,
spicy names full of vida
rooted in a soil of slowing,
as if there was something here,
subliminal in the purr of golf carts,
the unlined smiles of staff
that makes one dig in,
blunder on through a jungle
chasing myths.

Gus Peterson’s work has appeared recently online in Rattle and the Aurorean. He is still in Maine and figuring out a full length collection.


Gus Peterson – three poems


When I read I’ll promise
to always listen
but for now as your lips move
I’m adrift on the soft sea
of your shoulder thinking
how many stars died
to assemble you here today
in perfect periodic precision
not one element missing
and that if you ever do
lose a piece of yourself
the way our table
at the diner wobbles
after all the years
of hungry couples
starting and ending
I’ll fold the napkin of me
under one leg and we’ll
place our order

A Walk Before The Snow

For a while you follow
the yellow line,

zipping up the frayed coat
of this neighborhood

for one more storm.
In the pines beside a vacant house,

a tire pirouettes in its noose.
From the playground,

swings pumped by legs of wind
rasp their delight.

This is what the world does
when we withdraw.

Your loneliness is a woman
on the dance floor content

to wrap herself in her arms
and sway to the music.

Overhead the crow, unable
to contain itself, laughs.


We used to wonder
about him, sitting out
on the sunny steps eating
sardines on cracker,
watching the birds,
strolling up the road
for a coffee even though
the pot burbled all day
upstairs, trimming his Bonsai
between sales calls,
popping the weathered text
of his features into offices
instead of email.
We learned to seal off
any openings, to pick up
the phone whenever
his boots approached.
Seven years gone
and here we are,
still talking behind
closed doors.

Gus Peterson works in sales and lives in Maine alongside the Kennebec River. Work has appeared recently or is forthcoming in print from the Aurorean and Northern New England Review and online at New Verse News. A chapbook, When The Poetry’s Gone, was recently released by Encircle Publications.