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"One Way Ticket"- from The Ruby of the Universe
- Dan Lukiv

this poem is from The Ruby of the Universe. The title is taken from a line in the final poem, and all of them explore themes related to war. click here to read the others.


One Way Ticket

A poplar stands
As straight as subtraction,
Until the wind blows,
Making the green head sway
Like an old man
Lost on a corner,
Looking for his brother.

Then he remembers a storm;
It rushes into his mind,
Like water down a drain:
Poplars swayed between the
Barn and porch.
"Heavens!" he said,
Fogging up the kitchen window.
"I hope they don't fall over and
Hit the house!"

But his memory dissolves,
Like rage at the end,
And the storm becomes a
Truck that honks:
He has almost stepped into a
Mine field!
He surveys the flatland--
No, the rutted asphalt.
The truck roars
Through first gear,
Becomes a disappearing
Tailgate,
As he remembers,

He saw his brother
Lose his legs
At Passchendaele.
The old man tries to recall his
Brother's name,
While blasts of wind stir up
His white hair.

He tries to flatten it,
But gives up,

Like the poplars that fell over
In that storm.
He wonders if they
Landed on the house,
But all he recalls
Is a smashed fence.

And that reminds him:
Cedar makes the best fence posts;
At The Phoenix Home, however,
The fence posts are green:
(Pine?--spruce?)
Treated with a preservative
(Not creosote).

And in his room,
In Phoenix,
He has a guitar with
Three strings that hangs
Over an accordion that
Only screeches.

Also in his room is a captain's bed,
With four handy drawers,
But Mary and he had an iron bed--
She made chicken-feather mattresses:
One for them and one for each of the
Kids.

The light at the corner turns green.
He remembers what that means,
Just as he remembers the noon news
On the TV in the Golden Lounge:
Some people in Asia, lately,
Buy their parents or parent
A one-way ride on a train
To anywhere far
Away.

The light turns red;
He has forgotten to cross the street,
But he won't tell anybody,
Especially the people looking at him,
That he's forgotten his brother's
Name,
And that he keeps seeing poplar trees
Falling on his prairie-
House.


Dan Lukiv is a writer, educator, and frequent contributor to canadian content.
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