Saturday, August 19, 2017

sway.



I watch night after night as the labor crews move in,
Shuffling and shuttling in scaffolds and planks.
They toil by torchlight, the orange tongues of fire
Throwing orange rays against tree boughs
And the bricks of the poor man's tenements,
Giving way to ghastly tendrils of oily smoke.

They slide between one another, hand over elbow,
Head under arm, never speaking, only exchanging
glances and moving around in a solemn dance to some
Distant, silent calypso.
And they labor on, sinews pushing along their fervent ardor,
Until the first violet light of day breaks,
And they are gone.

When the fire of the sun breaks from behind the distant plane,
When the flatness of everything is overcome, bathed
In the fire of day, the men are nowhere to be found -
Chicken bones and tankards,
Tools left to dry in the sun,
No one
only the ghosts of men,
And the skeleton of a shack,
Perhaps.
Four posts, a floor, and a door,
But not where it ought to be.

The wooden skeleton, the frame
Stands proud in the day, stern and
Lonely, until twilight settles in again,
the columns casting long and sharp shadows.
And the men are in again,
their labors quiet in the cool night.

A gutter cat sneaks, thief-like into my view.
He snakes between my feet and rubs his black ribs,
His black cheeks against my legs, eyeing me
For a moment,
Before slinking away, the fire reflecting from
Green orbs before turning his head,
and he is gone;
locked into some preternatural courtship
with solitude and
the night.

Seven nights, and the men are gone,
But there is no roof, no walls,
Only a sturdy oaken beam where a roof
may lay its head.
The shrubs and the grass have been cut,
back, back, back away from the shack.

A day comes when the church bells strike,
Not the tolls of the hour,
Not a warning,
But a sullen, harrowing toll, and the
men and their wives, the town, they
shuffle in, shuttling in children,
setting linens in the crisp, cut grass.

They slide between one another,
hand over fist over head over ..
and a man in a velvet mask leads
another man in a sackcloth hood, trembling
to a short loop in a braided fiber rope,
coiling it around his neck like
a serpent.

And the fire in the skies before the sunset
Is the fire in the eyes of the crowd and the cat,
Reflected.
And the man is read his rites,
Never speaking a word, the clergy, the barrister,
the Sheriff all shuffle around him, the oaken
boards creaking beneath their soles.

And the man is hanged as the floor gives way,
giving way to a snap, the unremarkable report
of a branch or board, exhausted, breaking.
And his toes sway gently, three feet from firmament,
never knowing another love,
All of it dying with him, unrequited.

The air is cold and still for a moment,
before all the held breaths are exhaled,
floating out to the clouds.

And as the sun sinks behind the flatness
At the edge of the world,
the people gather themselves, gather the men,
the women, the children, shuffling out,
shuttling out,
and they are gone.




Friday, August 4, 2017

the fall.


i watched a butterfly fly away
today in the falling rain.
i watched it dodge and drift
between the drops,
the feathered edges of its wings
kissing the curves on globes
of drowning liquid.

time slowed, and the butterfly
pushed and beat its wings
against a wind pushed out
under a bruised, greying sky
clouds engorged with water
from the earth, and
veined with pulses of lightning.

i watched a butterfly die today
in the falling rain,
when it decided to alight,
and a single drop of drowning rain
struck
and for one glowing moment,
a brilliant blast of golden dust
as its wings were taken down
to skeleton.

it had landed, the butterfly
on the last leaf clinging to a tree

waiting for the fall