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Stay

The stage is yours,
my friend,
and I watch
among strangers,
and the night
takes me cool
and
in the receding
rhythms of
their dark hymns,
I descend
back to it.

And the strangers
stand enthralled,
and they hold you
with half-closed eyes,
and I wait
again at the back
of a room,
low light,
in communion
with the night.

And somehow
all songs —
your blues,
the mantra of crickets,
the frogs who
shake their throats
at the moon —
rise to one
holy chant
that we can’t
help but follow,
like rainwater
seeking the river.

And I will wait here
until all sound
blows whispering
to dust
and covers me over.
And I will wait here
while my hands
grow strange.
And I will wait here
as these candles
and stars
erase themselves.
And I will wait here
until we have
something more
to say.

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Dreamscape

Aftershocks
From questing dreams.

Road surrounded
By water.
Working out a way
To get somewhere.

The natives are restless…

Rickety wooden stairs,
Peeling gray paint,
Leading to…

Car won’t go.
There are lions.
Wrong shoes,
And I wish I had
A stockingcap.

Let it be
As it will be.

Catapults…

The tops of the trees
Are orange,
And the woods
Are always
Just over there…

I carry a worn hardcover
That smells reassuring
Like old books do.
Fingers run along
Yellowed,
Rough-edged pages.

Six or seven cages,
But I’m alone here.
Deliberate,
Break all the locks
And doors,
Looking over a shoulder
To be sure
No one will stop me.

My love
Requests the poem.

Put on a mask.
Smells of leather.
Threats threaten —
An undefined darkness
Rising from the water.

Wake up!
The woods are always
Just over there.

And my sweet speaks
Of a sick dream,
Attempts to escape.

Car starts,
Dylan on the radio,
Yer gonna make me lonesome
When you go.

I sheathe
The unknown sword.

Alternately driving
And riding,
I trade places
With the stranger.

Flock of geese,
Highway across the
Familiar-because-recurring,
Waterlogged floodplain.

We move on,
The road appearing
Where we need it
To appear.

Spider descends
In alarmclock light.
2:21 a.m.

Plea

Sharpened shadows
Cast silver bars —
Glancing downward
In silvering full moonlight.
Shallow bones,
Stiff as stones
Crack —
Dry creekbeds.
Blood recedes
To tender nerve
Nourished in fruit gone heavy
And honey sweet.
Nectar eaters slow
As light lessens,
And thistles half-blown
Measure the passage.
Bring a glass
Of silver light —
Words whispered over water —
Milk and blood,
Like a void.
Here.
Share this
Deep root sigh —
Sap in the wood —
Vein river.
Slowly now.
Deliberate.
Ease into the living.
Let there be a healing.

Red Dirt, White Church

It was a hop, skip and jump
Down a red-dirt path
Through the piney woods.
Turn the corner to find
That shiny white church
Where you raised your voice
In praise.

Half-crossed over
From the hunger and fever,
The departed crowd ’round
Now.
Their messages get lost
In so much speaking,
But through it all
I hear you warbling,
The Old Wooden Cross.

How I loved each twist
Of the drive
That climbed up out of Vulcan’s city —
With its smells and its smokes —
Past the forest
Reposed ‘neath blankets of kudzu,
To your house
With its inexplicable doors.
The pines still bring it back to me.

You made so many things
Out of the good tree dirt —
Gardeners by necessity.
The table full of plates.
And moving
From place to place —
To find
Where the money
Might be good.
But always,
Always,
The people to feed —
And you showed us
How this was to be done.

I never thought you as hard,
As the others did.
Though hardened, to be sure,
By the clock’s worried hands.
At the end of it,
You had a decades-long reach
Recalling the names —
A bear in the woods —
The food that was gathered there.

Stubborn,
An unbending will
And alone at the end —
Did your god guide you
Through those gates,
And down the red dirt path
To sing again
Glory
Hallelujah
In the little white church?
Do you still wait there
For a resurrection?

Mothers & Daughters Wake the Night

The little boy with the red hat
Stands beside the door,
Looks down to feet, then up again
Cold eyed. And I scream in the nightroom.

The creeping flesh and frozen blood.
The skin that sings from wrist to elbow
With the touch of unseen visitors.
Nerves taut and poised for flight.

Rabbit–twitch-eared, whisker sense–
Thumps the foot.
Tell the others.
The pursuit. It is coming.

The little boy with red hat,
Now beside the christening gown.
His baleful eyes speak of history,
Drawing near now.

Needle-finger finds the vein.
Aware but unable to move,
Watches. Waits in silence
For a dawn that never comes.

Shadow Surveillant

The shadow waits
To my right hand —
Eye-corner ghost,
Watching me watching,
Shade of dust
And the dire wolf.

Left-hand turning,
The light changes.
The shadow again
Lingers in the bending
Of focused sunlight
Through layered lens.

Now I watch
The oncoming fracture —
Accidental and expected —
Like a tide shifting
To send the wave
Up over then down
Upon the watcher
In the shadow.