A. J. Naslund

by Best Poem


The Louisville Kentucky clerk gazed
at window and parking lot but she spoke
of clouds, and they were shelf-like that
day, low, and covering everything, a
thickness that the seasoned knew could
not portend near rain, just thickness
and gloom of a dry kind. Her counterpart,
an older woman, stepped forward so I
could buy my German beer, and reassured
her about something. But that was then
and this is now, no rain, cold still,
gloomy to the quintessence. My dad in
a far country has reached the far end
of his career, can’t think of any new
enterprise in Colorado, Wyoming, or yet
The Treasure State that he will have
time and the power to do well, whatever
well is, but certainly his way. It’s
sad, and he is making odd gestures for
him, motions of hoarding, even of his
own words. By phone, he makes himself
busy, or not available to my numbers
and the name attached to them. Oh yes,
he will be going, he seems to tell me
from a remote location. He must be off
now, and no more talk. Get used to that,
son, I won’t be talking with you for a
long long time. Okay, I grant that, and
go up the trail in my mind with my dog.
For that I am allowed to weep, to cry
over the loss of a cattle dog, the one
who gave me so much trouble, and at
the end of our long tenure, was able
to make himself more clear. Yes, he was
willing to be sold to the lady with
cows, but could he take his toy? Oh
grief, you are too trivial. He was a
good one, and I will miss him, even
his stupid crooked tail as my daughter
called that club he spoke his happiness
with so cordially and well it knocked
against the wall in hollow staccato,
a hint of doggy laughter, no gloom will
stand against, I trow, in time. So let
them cover the sky like herds of skulls,
those grey and boulder clouds. I have
known hopes in dog and man with which I
haze the overwhelming dullness far away.

A. J. Naslund has enjoyed a career as a university English professor, teaching in the U.S., in Japan, and in South Korea. The writer has academic degrees from the University of Montana (Missoula, Montana-B.A. and M.A.) and the University of Louisville (Ph.D.). His work has appeared or will appear in such journals as Lalitamba, upstreet, Abiko Annual (Japan), Caesura, Lips, Ceramics Monthly, The Louisville Review, and others. His book of poems, Silk Weather (1999) was brought out by Fleur de-lis Press, Spalding University. The poet has interests in writing drama and fiction, and also in throwing pots. A resident of Louisville, Kentucky, Naslund grew up on a farm in Montana in the forties and fifties.