How Many Times

August Kleinzahler

Master claps of thunder,
Wrath of God thunder –
Sitting on the porch at night and waiting
For the rain to fall in Texas;

Or at the Cantina Grill Express
In Denver airport, between flights,
Watching as you dab at some hot sauce
On your chin:

How many times, how many places,
Have I said ‘I love you’?
How many _____ does it take
To change a light bulb?

Watching smoke from the sugar beet plant
Drift east to Minnesota
From the hotel window in Fargo –
How many times ‘you are beautiful’?

The swami,
After an extended meditation
In his hut, in the pine forest,
Many kilometres distant

From the nearest village
And at an altitude
From which one can see
Not only that village, but the next

And the next,
Takes out a cigarette,
Lights it,
And inhales deeply.