If You Lived Here

If you lived here you'd be home by now.
If you lived here I would press my head into your neck,
burrow in the hollow like a horse, soft against an open hand.
If you lived here you'd be home by now.
I'd pin my hair and wear that yellow dress for your birthday,
coerce the jukebox into disgorging seven Tom Waits songs.

I would stand tall on the bar in the battered tavern
that slumps like a drunk beside your river.
Two Tanquerays would lace my fiery belly
as I regaled you with "How Do I Love Thee?" in Brooklynese:
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith
You'd unleash your real laugh—the one
that rips through your chest and unhinges all my doors;
the laugh that persuades me you could live forever.

But listen: You would inhale every line of Browning's declaration,
love me in that yellow dress,
hoist your glass and demand another poem.

I would be ready, seducing you
with a rollicking version
of Thomas Lux's "Refrigerator, 1957."

I would shrug off the snickers of sober patrons,
the moist grins of drunkards mustered at the end of the bar.
Beer nuts would scatter at my feet like confetti,
and I would be home by now, too.
I would flutter to the floor and take my bows
with you, drinking, laughing and singing beside me,

more gravel to your throat than Tom Waits,
your old griefs swept aside
by the force of my childhood's faith.

Laurie Granieri is a former reporter whose prose has appeared on National Public Radio and in the 2011 essay collection This I Believe: On Fatherhood. Her poetry has been published in Paterson Literary Review and U.S. 1 Worksheets and was editor's choice on the literary website Identity Theory. She grew up in a New Jersey mill town that a friend describes as "a Bruce Springsteen song." (

Boxcar Poetry Review - ISSN 1931-1761