Gayl Teller


All in silence, his eyes fixed on his paper,

he waves a hello as he walks, and I wonder,

as I wave back, how he finds his way

out from the minefield of world news to see

me jogging by across our wide town street.

It’s autumn. The birds have put away

their summer songs, as I my shorts,

but the doggie brigade is chirring

along with the crickets— three amiable guys,

five dogs— of which I know only one name,

the one with the biggest mouth,

“Hi Tiger!” I hail, and he barks back.

A new neighbor, his chair half in half out

his open garage, sits enjoying the resonance

of his five biking, scootering sons

zigzagging the street, sons he’d bragged

he’s been raising like Aladdin from a lamp—

my legs a-bobbin along, I salute him, cheer the boys.

I work my arms through the crisp air

that prods open my senses as if I’m skiing

along some majestic cliff of awakening,

as I jog jaggedly around my same old block.

I give a finger wiggle signal, but get

the usual no reply from the same old dog

I see often sprawled in a bay window’s sun-

shine somehow basting us in a conscious link,

as he gathers himself to look my way.

“Hey! I’m on my way to the track!” a friend

shoves out his hand through his opening car window,

as another, washing her car, mists rainbow I run through,

and Jimmy, the mailman, in his Ramar-of-the-Jungle hat,

stops me in my track to pick up his road-trip yarn,

his getting “higher than the mountains on Denver weed!”

And I ponder as I pass on my redundant rounds,

how the commonwealth of familiarity brings joy,

some I know enough just to wave a hello,

or not even, like the nameless woman I often see

out cold in her car, seaming-up some lunch-break dream,

and those others— I even carry along some of their woes,

but all get stitched with the same sunshine thread

along my tread, like the golden embroidery

on my pillowcase where I lay my head


Nassau County Poet Laureate for 2009-11 and the Walt Whitman Birthplace 2016 Poet of the Year, GAYL TELLER is author of 7 poetry collections, most recently, Flashlight: New and Selected Poems (WordTech/ Cherry Grove Collections, 2019) and the editor of  the poetry anthology Toward Forgiveness (Writers Ink, 2011): awarded a NY State Decentralization Grant for the Arts. Director of the Poetry Series at the Mid-Island Y, in Plainview, for 25 years, a Hofstra University professor, she has been the recipient of the Westmoreland Arts & Heritage Poetry Award, the Edgar Allan Poe Prize, a National League of American PEN Women Prize, the Peninsula Library Poetry Prize, a National Federation of State Poetry Societies Prize, and others.