William Trowbridge: two poems

Captain Video, 1952


After school, it thundered in on Wagner’s

Flying Dutchman Overture.” OK, maybe

it sputtered some on 25-bucks-a-week,

the Captain and the Video Ranger wearing

ski goggles on painted football helmets

to battle histrionic villains on cloth planets.

But so what if Mars was a drawing

on a canvas flat, also Venus, Neptune

et. al. And who cared that controls

on the Captain’s ship, Galaxy II, featured

a TV screen small as ours, a lever,

and several wheels, all on another flat,

that a midway filler flipped to oater serials:

Riders of Death Valley, Deadwood Dick,

or that our Captain wound up demoted

to dentist in a toothpaste ad and his Ranger

from cosmic duty to daytime soaps.

On the Galaxy’s interrupted flights, I swear

we conquered space. And saved the earth.

I remember. I was there.




At Military School


It was my first teaching job, English comp

to three sections of uniformed rejects, whom

parents didn’t want to deal with: slackers,

delinquents, droopy sad sacks. In a school

that looked like a fortress, they were marched

to martial tunes in dress that looked

more student prince than military.

Grades were rigged to humor parents,

who’d find their flunky son had become

a scholar and a gentleman, reviewed

in close order drill instead of lineups.

On weekends, some got passes to be bussed

in uniform 20 miles to a college town,

where they stood on corners, getting cat calls

from frat boys in convertibles, cold shoulders

instead of dates. There was a suicide,

maybe from the bullying. They graduated

bitter, angry, and good with a gun.




William Trowbridge’s ninth poetry collection, Call Me Fool, came out from Red Hen Press in September. Over 550 of his poems have appeared in numerous literary magazines and in more than 50 anthologies and textbooks. He is a faculty mentor in the University of Nebraska-Omaha Low-residency MFA in Writing Program and was Poet Laureate of Missouri from 2012 to 2016. For more information, see his website at williamtrowbridge.net