Lex Runciman

Head Is All Heart Has

Lydia Davis

Like guests for cards
or company for a meal,
even if when alive they never met,
they make small talk.

Their room opens off a hallway.
Mostly they’re dead and you’re in a hurry.
But occasionally, the doorway lacking a door,
you see a table, chairs, and look in.

They remember their work.
They remember jam and shoes too tight.
Days and stories
you thought their dying took with them

turn out to be as present as they are –
beer they remember, and how it was to spread a blanket
on warm grass, swat flies, doze, wait for the tune up,
the swing, the jazz.

One of them this morning
teased about February, that cold shovelling,
which prompted another one to ask
when last you simmered that beef barley
vegetable stew all afternoon
on the stove.


Lex Runciman
writes from Oregon’s Willamette Valley.  He has published four books of poems, including most recently Starting from Anywhere from Salmon Poetry in 2009.