Craig Finlay

Three Things Jack Gilbert Didn’t Write

Jim Dead

Tried to call my father again today. Realized as it was ringing, decided to see if someone picked up. Someone did, a woman, the new owner of the number. I asked if Jim was there. She said No. Went outside and smoked and looked at the Milky Way from the back yard and listened to the neighborhood dogs have their long distance conversations. Hey, we're here. Hey, I hear you. I'm here, too.

The Small Fires

He is unnerved by the way dreaming can find people change from past to fiction to someone else entirely. After reading it, he knows that dreams are merely free association, that we only affix a narrative to them later. And knowing this while awake, he discovers that he knows it while sleeping, too. He finds his past is a shifting topiary garden. She becomes someone else. She becomes herself. And always in places he's never been or will never visit again. He looks at an endless pool of black water in moonlight and the grey herons that nose about but when they surface, he's back in a great hall and the shafts of sunlight cut the black like some Film Noir still life. Watching, we wonder what he hopes to find in this breathless, wild-eyed sprint through the topiaries that sprout through cracks in the marble floor. His guilty lurch. His way of believing that an orchard gone to weeds is now a forest.

Polylithos

Two types of experiences: opaque and translucent. There are more types of things, but not so many of experiences. Whether this is due to movement or gravity is of course the great philosophical debate. The coolness of Alison's skin as she pushed herself onto me, holding onto a door frame, while her husband was at work. That was an opaque experience. The time she kicked my cat in frustration while I was in rehab was translucent. When she told me about it? Opaque again. And translucent when I came home drunk from work, and so too the lights of the library visible from our backyard. What of things, though? That can be a more difficult catalogue than experiences. The fragile thinness of her legs, the spider in the door jam, the sculptures she no longer made? Neither opaque nor translucent. Reflective.

Author Reading

About the Author

Craig Finlay is a some-of-the-time poet and most-of-the-time librarian currently on an Omaha leg of a lifelong tour of the Midwest. His first collection, The Very Small Mammoths of Wrangel Island, was published in 2021 by Urban Farmhouse Press. Someone once described it to him as “Wikipedia poetry,” and a review in Pembroke Magazine said it could “double as a trivia night preparation packet.” Craig is okay with both of those assessments.