Dusk drinks down
October rain,
autumn color,
the road ahead

which shortens
to a halogen halo
seen through the slap
of windshield wipers.

Follow the staccato pulse
of the yellow center line.
Tunnel through night.
Reach home

to snug beneath a blanket
and dream daylight
until it pours the world
back around the house

as if we never traveled in darkness,
as if nothing were ever lost.

For @dVersePoets Open Link Night.

Driving it Home

Alone, driving down a country road
close to what was home, I hear my mother’s voice.
I see her hand point to each farmhouse and lane.

She tells me who lived where when she was a girl.
But all I hear are general tones,
because the words have gone.

Farm fields stretch on like urban blight inner city blocks
strained to their breaking. Two miles to the next corner.
Right, then five miles more. Turn upon turn of absence.
The bleached white bones of loss lie scattered, unclaimed.

The car rattles up its lane to the familiar cedar shingled frame.
Park inside the old shed, it’s soul wrapped in metal.
Dad drove every nail. The barn, the shop
all in dust and disarray of the last days
which lasted for years.

I walk in the house, set the keys on the table.
No need to say I’m home for the ghosts all know,
glide around in whispers.

Open the fridge, pour a glass of milk.
Ten leftover containers seethe with curdled discontent.
Shut the door.

Sit for hours
and watch the faces on the walls
drift back deeper.

Scimitar Draconid

(a poem in anticipation of Halloween)

The sun set, surrendered
to a sliver
crescent moon
glinting silver
through October sky.

Cut from the dragon’s head,
stars tumbled,
left brief ghost streaks
of their blood.

Far below,
breath boiled
over a man’s left ear
as he walked,
the visible trail
of half murmured thoughts.

He ducked inside,
peeked out the window,
cursed the semaphore
of exhalations
which led to his door.

All night he washed his hands,
wary of God’s raised blade,
nervous of the only one
who could safely kill,

no questions asked.

Posted for @dVersePoets Open Link Night

Where the Lines Have Fallen

We’ve both walked away before.
A poet always thinks he knows
where the breaks should be
then turns back and fusses
with them weeks, months,
years later. Only to return
the lot to where they were.

You are beautiful
but far away
and I can’t even manage
this long run-on sentence
called my life. No place
looks right for a pause.
I don’t have the strength
to move punctuation
or change a phrase
once uttered.

Let it lie.
Maybe one day
I’ll be wise enough to know
where everything belongs.

He Thinks He’s an Artist

The cool walk of rain
across the field
with its countless feet
blue buzz reciprocal blade
whining shriek as it cuts
floor boards
water and blood in wooden boxes
tung oil smooth sealed
paper umbrella
sways over
departing figure
from farmhouse
no one sees or knows
the effort involved
the weight of the body
so many pieces
neatly disposed

This fractured bit of macabre for @dVersePoets Open Link Night. Posting there at 2 p.m. CDT.

A condensed, clearer variant, or at least one interpretation:

artists, ghouls,
shoot poses
of the dead
they rearrange,
sometimes reassemble.

A regret

When people are email followers of my blog, they get the first version of the poem that hits the web. Occasionally, like in my most recent poem, there is serious revision after that. The final version of this latest poem follows what actually happened a lot more closely than the first version. In reality the conversation was over the phone and there was a lot more back and forth, comparing notes. As it became a poem, I first thought about how an unsuspecting visitor would respond to the information. Then I went back a bit closer to the real story. The first version of the poem is about the awkwardness of the information, the second, about its power.

Genealogy Visit

After an offer of coffee or tea
from this elderly cousin,
her rooms festooned
with knick knacks and doilies

she shifts position.
Her eyes well.

She confides dark stories,
Infidelities, drunkenness, violence,
the fear of leaving a brute.

I have no place to file
the flailing fists,
the ever watchful eye,
the countless repetitions
of a broken vow.

Drawn into her world,
long hours of conversation,
notebook forgotten.

She repeats
three times
“I hated him.”

For @dVersePoets Open Link Night.

Wonders of the Web

A cache of 1940 photographs
taken of my county,
aerial photos.


my range, township, section,
and see the farm from above.

Woods have slowly encroached
on the fields since then.
A pasture ran from the barn
down to the creek in the grove,

crops and trees
now divide
the former bovine demesne.


on a dot in the yard
to the shock
of a boy waving,
looking up
at the airplane
high above.

I look down,
wave back,
waver between
for a moment forget
my absence then
his absence now.


In a Richer Vein

The maladjusted sheep
took a poll among the wolves
who said she’d do much better
if she rested on the ground,
four hooves in the air.

She agreed with their assessment
then laid down in repine
and occasionally repose,
waiting for their breath
to weigh upon her ear.

A life of grazing got too boring
so she let their perfect teeth
slice the iron of her blood.

As she lay there dying
she remembered Michelangelo,
how he saw the angel in the marble
then carved to set it free.

For dVerse Open Link Night #114