three poems
By Alan Horvath
From Measured Steps 2004




another world

encapsulated by the night,
we are cradled in our bed
surrounded by the sounds
of a fan across the room.

you are curled
as small as possible
with the comforters
tightly tucked
against your neck.

in this dim light I can barely see
the details of your face:
tiny black lashes
doing the dance of sleep,
furrowed brows
trying to see deeper
into a dream.

I am merely inches
away from your face
in another world
listening to you breathe.

your body releases
a wave of warmth.
it is this heat
that addicts my life.
not that I need
the temperature,
my craving is for the body
that conveys it.

I wrap my left arm around
you to hold onto this life-force,
to protect you from
your demons
as well as all my own.


someone I knew

she always hears music.
the sound surrounds her.

I meet her at the
panhandle of golden gate park.
we drive south on 19th avenue
through the morning commute
to our temporary assignments
on the peninsula.

we discuss herb caen's
chronicle column
& events of the day.

now I have an additional
focus to my daily routine:
I read the newspaper
& listen to the radio
in anticipation
of my carpool rider.

other than these topics,
we have nothing in common.

she lives in the decay
of the haight district
& views it as this mystical place
which it was many layers
of decomposition ago.

moving to san francisco
from someplace in the east,
she knows that the haight
is the center of any universe
which she would want to inhabit.

at work we rarely speak,
but at 5 o'clock we are
in my car & traveling north
into the traffic jam on highway 101.

today she is talking about
her boyfriend whom she calls "ton."
I wonder it tony's nickname
represents a stereo's pitch controls —
like "bass" & "treble."
no, she replies: it's more like
"wow" & "flutter."

the music means the most.
everything is music
& the haight has the best.

when her assignment
reaches its conclusion,
she is terminated.
no longer do I circle
the panhandle waiting
for her to appear.

I find myself alone
in rush hour congestion.

a few months later,
I return to my regular job
in the city.
a friend tells me
that tony killed nancy.
he beat her over the head
with a telephone & twisted the chord
around her neck until she was dead.

he wrapped her body in a rug
& planned to throw her
from the building's roof.
when the landlord
spotted him in the stairwell,
tony dropped the rug
& disappeared into the rot
on the street.

I never heard how many people
attended her funeral:
     some people pass through
     & are blown away like dust.

in her life,
nancy could hear screaming
guitars emanating from somewhere
down the hall
& had to follow.



I am buried in a vault
30 feet below the
surface of the earth.

I do not know
why no one
has rescued me,
but nobody has tried
to free me from
my confinement.

they use me to help
other people who
have fallen deeper
than me.

I navigate the tunnels
that I have dug to reach
those who have accidentally
slipped down
abandoned mine shafts
or old septic systems.

I offer the victims
water & the hope
that the rescuers
are on their way.

within hours,
the trapped are usually
but they leave
without taking me.

red cross volunteers
lower buckets of big macs
& boxes of books
to keep me entertained.

moles & rabbits
have become my
closest friends.

they check to see
if I have enough air
& sufficient drainage
so that I can be as
comfortable as possible
while I wait
to be released.

already the squirrels
have stockpiled a mound
of nuts for me to snack on.

they are teaching me the rules of my new world.

I must make
certain that I stay below
the frost line

           winter is coming.


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