Three Poems by Caleb Wein






Witness Tree

Does it hurt standing there
unable to do anything but watch?
How long does it take
for soil to stop tasting
like blood?
A decade?
A century?
We all hold scars.
Some are hidden
beneath layers of toughened skin.
I never knew if roots grew faster than branches.
What wins in the battle between staying and leaving
when we can never forget?


I pivot this fountain pen around my fingers,
feeling its weight.
Years ago, you gave it to me
with three words,
For your studies.

These days I fill it with a deep blue ink
that flows onto paper like waves on the beach.
You loved the ocean, swimming through swells
as they pushed your body,
letting you know they were alive too.

Now that you’re not,
is your body truly motionless,
or is it swimming away?
Bones backstroking through clay and soil
as you stare up at the roots of the world.

DC al Coda
For Reuben Jackson

The last time I saw you, you were passing
on the other side of the street.
The clouds were heavy and I was sitting on a bench
in a sweater not warm enough for the time of year.
You didn’t see me.

Memory is a dangerous place to get lost,
like a bed’s warmth as the cold morning air
makes its voice known.
In memories, nothing has to change.
In memories, I still hear every inflection of your voice.
In memories, a stroke means nothing more
than a clock’s movement.

There’s a cliché movie scene where a character
finds themselves back in time
with another chance to say goodbye.
They hug their loved one as a tear begins to fall.
Their loved one, confused by the sudden outburst of affection,
embraces it. Asks something along the lines of,
“Hey, what’s gotten into you? Is everything okay?”

I’m sitting on a bench under a cold gray sky.
The hands on every clock are frozen.
I watch you pass
and again.

Caleb Wein is a Maryland and Washington, D.C. based poet and is currently a student at the University of Maryland College Park. He has been a featured poet at the American Poetry Museum in Washington, D.C., as well as having published poetry in his university’s literary journal, Stylus.

Image: Marine 69-71, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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