October Poem 43: The Trick of Nothingness

The retaining wall. To save your parents

The erosion that served to strip you of

Your most valuable resource. Your land. The

Hill. Your livelihood. You should have something

To behold. Trailer tailgate the top of

The Earth. Offloading boards at the awkward

Angle from front of the grave. The little

Vine from the world’s fair. It grew so fast. Land

Scraped smooth as much as smothered. Furniture

Of your house. Your salvation. Vanishing

Nothingness. How it burned bright across your

Throat. But you know squalor. And the trick of

Nothingness. Soft toilet paper. And a

Good toothpaste. It will be missed when it’s gone.

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October Poem 37: The Bargain With Death

The queer light of sunset lit the old man’s

Face lighting his eyes with blood and fire.

The neighborhood dogs were howling in the

Distance with the old man at the front door.

He let in his neighbor and closed the door.

Breathing heavy, he nearly fell against

The wall one hand on his stomach and the

Other still grasped on the knob. The neighbor

Put an arm around him to help him to

A chair, and the hound in the corner moaned

Out a soft howl in his fitful sleep.

The old man lifted his hand from his shirt

To show a small spot of red spreading on

His button down shirt. The old man said, I

 

Told you about this scar the night I sat

With your wife all those years ago. I know

That you always questioned how I could know

The exact night to comfort her passing.

Tonight, I have seen the visions again.

The Barguest is coming to finish what

He started in the old grave yard in my

Youth. Will you return the favor I gave

Your wife? Sit and lend comfort, and don’t stare

Into the beast’s eyes when he breaks through the

Door. The neighborhood dogs continued to

Howl, and the old man’s dog fidgeted

And growled in his sleep. And the darkness was

Choking out all the light through window.

 

 

Risky

October Poem 34: Enjambment of Pesta the Princess of the Plague

Nature is a woman standing outside

An open window blowing the breeze through.

Do you think her life does not extended through

The screen? Do you think she is just broken

Off to begin again on the next line

Sterilized by your four walls? But you know

She will come through and when she does, will she

Come upon her cart with rake to gather

The dead like so many leaves of fall to

Leave the few to escape the tines or with

A broom to sweep them all like dust gathered

On the floor of an empty tomb. You know

Life brings plague on the wind and none escape

Life alive. But you want to be the first.

October Poem 28: Death and the Black Dog

That last night, as I walked miles from my

Broken car with a blister stinging on

My left foot, a dog mourned a lonesome howl

Into the darkness of the shard of moon.

He sniffed along the gravel shoulder of

The old country highway. His dark fur could

Hardly be seen in the distance except

From the corner of my eye. But the faint

Green light of his stare so much like the light

That often woke me puddled in sweat. His

Presence brought a chill. Or was it the cold

Wetness of the wind through the roadside pine,

And the vision of a man watching from

The woods and my blood warming his wet hands?

October Poem 24: The Roentgen Effect

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In the red light of the basement dark room,

I have seen Death dancing. A dim specter

In the dark. A shadow skeleton that

Might not be there. Arms outstretched motioning

Me forward. He has shown me photographs

Floating in the chemical vats. Floating

An accident of exposure. Floating

An artifact of suffering. Of black

Limbs solidified in among the white

Trees of an early snow and short sleeves. Drifts

Piled upon the autumn leaves. Weakened.

Unprepared. My son and I chasing that last

Bit of beautiful weather with a small

Burned out fire and Death dancing us on.
Fraud

October Poem 2: Attending Father’s Death Bed

Their hills of red clay stand out against the

Browning green of the grass warning like a

Stop sign the dangers out hiding in the

Memories of earlier days. Running

Through the grass watching the hoppers flee. Your

Trundling steps, when did they go missing?

The ants working hidden in the fields, the

Tall grass their hunting grounds. Biting, stinging,

And killing. The prick around your ankle

Could have been a burr. But another up

Your leg and then the burning and itching.

Again, you are running. They smell spicy

As they make their way up your shoe and in

Your socks. As you were caught unsuspecting.

September Poem 36: Little Rituals

Sunlight in the kitchen reflected on

A cup of coffee. An aqueous glint

Of white on black. The yen and yang of a

Life defined by the punctuation of

A morning cup. Blinding. Reflecting the

Morning and the green on the trees beyond

The window. In glimpses. Flashes of the

Future in the freshly perked smell of the

Reddening berries and the sweat of the

Pickers in the field. Flashes of the past

In the mountainous soil and higher

Elevations. The circle of life, death,

And rebirth in the invigorating

Jolt of a morning’s little ritual.

Glorious

September Poem 34: Burial at Sea

You open your eyes to the silencing

Sound of the brown murk of sand and water

And the bubbles popping loose of your ears.

The water. The cold fishy brine that you

Swallowed in big gulps as you gasped for breath

When the wave pulled you up. Before you saw

Your hair like a black jelly fish floating

Above your head. Before you couldn’t see

The sand build under your fingernails in

The brown water as your fingers grasped at

The sandy gravel and bits of sunken

Driftwood as you tumbled in and out of

The pull of the undertow. The wet depths

With their strange appeal to the open sea.
Sting