Excerpt #106, Rocking-Chair Moon

Messages
—Carly

Listen!
Can’t you hear it?
Late at night,
when the low drone from the highway
finally breaks up into a feeble,
nonsensical code
of automotive dots and dashes,

when the breeze fades
and the trees stand silent
and conversations deteriorate
into wistful nods and shrugs,
I swear I can hear something
spiral out of the quiet,
sometimes my name,
sometimes a frightened far-off sigh,

sometimes just the ultra-sensory sound
of a smile changing the skin contours
of a familiar face—
his, Ben’s, my brother’s.
Listen!
Can’t you hear it?

Lumps of Coal
—Ben

It wouldn’t—couldn’t—happen to me
I dared to pray in my old church-going way
even though I saw my buddies
dropping around me like fir boughs
in a mountain storm.

Did I really think
I could just kill time here
—just hangin’ loose, brother—
until Uncle sawed me off
and sent me home?

No, and for sure not now that the front
of this rolling coffin is scattered all over
the road and smoke
—where there’s smoke there’s fire, kid—
fills the cab

and mangled segments of my arm
hang suspended in my sleeve
like lumps of coal
in a crimson Christmas stocking

and what’s left in there is warm and sticky
and sickeningly painful where it isn’t numb
and my side then the rest of me grows cold
in the burning desert air.

I try to move but only my mind shifts and
I think of Carly and Mom and Grandpa and
how they don’t need another priest
or preacher or sky pilot of any stripe

talking about a better place,
and how I already have my better place
and it’s called home.

 

Statistic
—Carly

Mom’s voice, wet with tears,
and a stream of dreaded words.
Pictures flood my head.

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