Michael Lauchlan


Regarding Some Photons

You are looking at me from the snap on the desk,
but I am no one to you. You glide through
your sister’s lens, laughing like spring light
falling through an oak. You are twenty-five.
Had I been there with my camera, I’d have
set it on the grass and taken you in my arms
and kissed you. And there would be no portrait.
Ten years late for the photo, I finally took

a kiss, and thirty years vanished in a weird
proof of relativity. Had Heisenberg arrived,
he’d have doubted that I really kissed you
(or that you kissed back), while Shrodinger
would see my kiss as a possible cat in a box.
Since you hate cats, you’d never look inside
and the kiss would always be dead. If it’s my kiss,
it would die sneezing, from imaginary cat hair,

which Shrodinger never bothered to clean out.
On this end of the lightbeam, we have grandkids.
Your kisses still transport. Yet I peer into a frame
as though scoping a star whose photons sailed
through all the years we’ve been held fast
by chemical bonds and the strong magnetic force,
by balanced humors and humor itself,
by the old madness that passes for magic.





“…a horse cart/ piled with mementos of the life/ to come. “ Phil Levine

Leaves flip over as light
razors into dark. Flies bite.
Birds scrounge for bugs.
A door bangs. We shift
weight from foot to foot,
thinking what next? and
trying to sort out why
the popping of rain on dirt
recalls fire, why fire evokes
the city blowing apart but
also us, decades back, kissing
in a downpour, your face
bright and wet, or why love
and riot awaken a kitchen
on a bacon-frying Sunday
before dad died. Rain,
newsmen said, rolling six
lies into one, ended the riot,
though the charred remains
of housefires still stink like
a wet dog sneaking in just
before lightning’s next burst.


Dwarfed, a man stands in a willow,
propped between limbs, holds
an idling saw, and stares at a branch
dangling just beyond his reach.

If one could speak above the growl
of a saw and owned one word
equal to his limbs’ longing for rest,
if his sound reached any ear,

would he not become the tree’s own
voice and merge with the green hush
until he sang only the one true
grammar of the waving frond?



Skreeting the wet cement, dragging a board
over the forms, he works the gray mass flat,
then, with the wood float, rubs the stones
deep into the slab, letting the smooth grains
rise to the surface. Later, he will smooth it
with a magnesium, then broom it
and pour a potion of curing fluid.
He straightens to rinse the lime
from his gloves and pants, to wash
the chalky residue from the drive, to let
his back release its knot of pain.
A small boy is practicing the crossover
as he walks to the schoolyard court,
the ball slapping against the echoing street.
A woman shouts into a phone, tires wail,
and from a world gone quiet, traffic
asserts its buzz of engines, brakes,
lawn mowers, and the familiar “pop
—pop—pop” where talk has broken off.


 Copyright 2012 Michael Lauchlan


Michael Lauchlan has lived in and around Detroit for his entire life. His poems have appeared in many publications including New England Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, Victoria Park, The North American Review, Ninth Letter, Natural Bridge, Apple Valley Review, Boxcar, Tampa Review,  Innisfree, Crab Creek and The Cortland Review, and have been included in Abandon Automobile, from Wayne State University Press and in A Mind Apart, from Oxford Press.  He has recently been awarded the Consequence Prize in Poetry.

After a decade in community development and construction, Lauchlan earned an MFA from Warren Wilson and has spent 20 years teaching English and Creative Writing at colleges, universities, and one high school in Detroit.