David Rivard
American Speaking

Pressure of what you’d hear

if you really heard

the findable pressures

of finite things—


you’d be concussed, actually,

by the carpenter

a Catalan or South Miami Cubano

60-something years old


and carrying a ladder

with inordinate care while complaining

in curses yelped

Spanish-style about the


hardening of his arteries,

his legs ready for the go-round

still, being on the make—

only, in this country


it’s your money or your life,

and we don’t want any

of those who slide into the pew these

Sunday summer mornings


to think the bedmaker

we call Jesus

has really died—after all, the sheets

so neatly & finally tucked-in


on all our beds

are clean, are they not?—so speak

American, says the crew boss,

speak American, OK?


and then shut the hell up.

Found In Volume 33, No. 05
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David Rivard
About the Author

In addition to Standoff, David Rivard is the author of five other books: Otherwise Elsewhere, Sugartown, Bewitched Playground, Wise Poison, winner of the James Laughlin Prize from the Academy of American Poets and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award, and Torque, winner of the Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize. Among his awards are fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, Civitella Ranieri, and the NEA, as well as two Shestack Prizes from American Poetry Review and the Hardison Poetry Prize from the Folger Shakespeare Library, in recognition of both his writing and teaching.  He teaches in the MFA in Writing program at the University of New Hampshire.