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  • Wooden Floor, and: Our Side of the Tracks
  • John Bensko (bio)

Wooden Floor

We scrape down, a layer of linoleum, blue paint, green paint, until pine becomes the surface we’ve sought.

Bring in the big sander. Grind down until the whole room is fresh. We’re left then

the questions. Are we good enough to know? Gouges and burns can be too deep. Experts have

answers, but we decide. Amid the dilemmas of whether, how, and why,

we wait so long to be seen, some of us a lifetime. We take the chance, say [End Page 41] do it, knowing the smooth beauty of what we’ll walk across, the pride we’ll show to friends,

and yet not quite able to let ourselves know what we’ve done.

Our Side of the Tracks

First thing you see that woman Going to her trunk on that other woman.

Gets out the sawed-off and props it On her hip that’s swung out, props it

To say, come closer to me & this gunAnd I won’t even need this gun.

Second thing, it’s night and a coyote Walks stiff-legged down the sidewalk. The coyote

Steps into the street and stops To look each way. Just like the moon stops

Sometimes so bright Even in the city that the shadows seem bright

And fall on the grass with an immensity That makes us forget we need immensity. [End Page 42]

We mow the lawn, eat, sleep, die. The moon makes us want to lie down beneath it and die.

In May, the trees drop their seeds In puffs like dingy cotton. Seeds

That gather in balls across the yard. Our children Are frightened. We never want them to act like children.

The drive-bys so often while they’re playing Catch them playing.

John Bensko

John Bensko has published three books of poetry, most recently The Iron City (U of Illinois P). He has also published a collection of stories, Sea Dogs (Graywolf P).



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