After Everyone is Gone

Fireflies of memory
flash
in the darkened rooms,
greet my silent passage
with light from unexpected angles.

The past made new
each moment,
a startling shock
of the familiar—
which also grounds me.

Another green ghost rises,
illuminates my face
and disappears
into a darkness
greater than before

while I navigate
the old familiar rooms.

From the Grave

Countless days
we walk together
in the gray half-light
to both ignore and reclaim time.

Sometimes it is dusk,
sometimes dawn,
and I can only tell
the hour
by whether I find you
young and beautiful
or frail and fading,

yet I am always
what I’ve become:
time weary and distant
from any touch.

It it an illusion,
a trick of the mind,
that calls you here
and more and more
I see only
your youthful gaze.

I fall further
into a sepia toned past
where I dream
all was safe

before the fire and falling
before the hard exile
before time separated me
from everything.

Baptism into Oblivion

The multitude gather,
aged and frail, bathe
in the beautiful river,
wash in forgetting
clean as any absence ever was.

Then all dissolves
to a home
which is not home.
Blank confusion
stares out at bland walls.
Worried hands work
against each other
to find … what was it? …
grasped
a mere moment before.

Behold this sleight of hand
of mind upon the self
where the wide river
shrinks to a dead cistern
and the coin never held
never drops
into an empty well
of wishes never asked.

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.

Wonders of the Web

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

[Download]

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.

[Zoom]

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
decades,
for a moment forget
my absence then
his absence now.

Father.

no hold left

fall
each day
through clouded rooms
not of fire or hashish
but dulled to memory
nothing as it once was
the furniture all wrong
the people gone
saying hello
as I pass
to the walls
which remain
blank white
yet dinged
by creeping time

float
each night
beyond pale stars
and the rising orange moon
to vast realms
of permanence

punctured
by one sharp streak
across the sky
fading
and gone

I tumble

====
For Open Link Night #111 at dVerse Poets Pub (was torn between this poem and the previous one for Open Link Night)