by Bill Tremblay


by Bill Tremblay



I kneel on the floor between library stacks

rummaging through books.

The cover of one features a man

with a beard like Gabby Hayes.

I open to a page laid out in lines

on which a spider casts filaments,

hoping to connect to something in the world.

But it’s not a spider,

he’s using the spider to mean his soul.

I feel my shoulder muscles open.

I too cast filaments building a web

to hold my loneliness.



Sometimes the world reaches in to me.

Some nights I hear Dizzy’s brother crying 

“Help me!”  German bullets clank-flash

on x-girders in surf

as he tries to rip himself free of barbed-wire.

When he reaches Omaha Beach

a tracer shears off the part of him

that could have made his own children.

I hear his mother hush him

with the lullaby of his Purple Heart.

I fling my filaments into the nightmares

soldiers come home with.

War is our daily bread.

We choke it down without water,

We cough out words, “kamikaze,” “blitzkrieg.”

Dizzy, Stashu and I put our fingers

under our noses for moustaches, goose-step

in a Heil Hitler salute up Wardwell Court.

A photograph fixes us—soldier, sailor, flyboy—

frescoed fissures on a ruined wall.



The Colonel reaches toward his men,

bleeding from a Messerschmitt.

They’re sucked out the fuselage into a flak-filled sky.

I launch my filaments to those I cannot save.

The gunners fall into French pastures.

The impact digs their graves.

No one dreams another war will come.

My sister’s husband wears

the big helmet on the carrier conning tower.

He says “Now hear this” as jets zoom off the deck.

Factories hiring again, more overtime, more sorrow

as mothers tear open telegrams.

Stashu’s cousin torn apart by a Russian MIG.

War is to prosperity as cause is to effect.

A new car can make up for any

number of nightmares.

My father says, “Nobody wants war,

but what’s a working stiff to do?”

What I want is hidden in tall leaves of grass.

I’ll be proud if I can guess their meaning.

The bearded poet is not just

making points of contact,

he’s making a pattern, a net, with a purpose.