He did not drive the 1987 big green Lincoln.
Stationary, stuck in the corner of a parking lot
behind a gracing church, the Lincoln was home,
all his possessions racked in the back,
special toggle switch to bypass
the power block disabled, no blinkers,
tail lights or brake, battery mainlined
to dome light and the bright segments
of radio for baseball games heard
in twilight before he slept on the front seat
his feet stuck in the steering wheel
like ivy wound through iron grate.
Escaped to furnished housing,
he ate like a woodpecker at a bird feeder,
a hand clutching the table, his legs
like a tail up against the bottom for balance,
head dipping over like a beak,
eyes at the level of his food,
in perpetual fear of his dead mother
returning to take away his meal.
a gallon of four percent milk,
a ride home, a visit in intensive care,
a burrito, a coffee, a smoke.
Praise and thanksgiving poured from his lips
as powerful as waterfalls in spring,
the slightest help memorialized.
At night in the car to stave off boredom
he would make an imaginary cemetery,
tombstones with the names
of those who had given him gifts,
pretend to visit each stone, call out each name,
but he was lousy at names, so the tombstones etch
bore not a name but a function.
He called me the Whole Milk Man,
the Warm Hand of the Emergency Room.
painted bubbles in their still life
to show the transience of existence
in the breath of the bubble,
that even though still life captured
a moment forever, the bubble
would burst, life into death.When I watch rain puddle
and drops splash, each making
a bubble as it falls into the puddle,
I think of Steve.
He was my Bubble Man.
An Evening, Late September
The light through my studio window,
beckons. On my swivel chair,
I stare onto the old railway track.
A tangle of briars, bracken and ivy leaves,
tea stained with September’s close,
weave and coil a loop of hostility.
Come morning, it will be October.
You would have been thirty-eight
next week, on the seventh.
The rusty tracks like coppery trees,
the sleepers split and crumbled.
I’m surprised they remain, not reclaimed
for a garden bed or border in an urban landscape.
Woodlice scurry under mulch and rotting foliage,
back and forth, as if on timber beams.
The playhouse roof glittered
with last night’s frost in the midday sun,
gifted the lawn a dusting of silver.
The starling chorus on overhead wires
chirruped a cacophony of sky,
the sonic texture told me the time
and blackberry droppings scattered
far and wide tell me there’s a turning.
A landscape burning golds and umbers,
sage, pea and bottle-green hues,
so vivid and rich and fleeting.
Saying farewell to grief
is as wrenching as grief itself
and like the trees, I’m fallen
with all my colours, waiting,
waiting for spring.
My Sister’s Green Shoes
They lie on the lower rung
of the shoe rack, with a layer of dust.
The colour of pea soup, mange tout
and under ripe bananas, or the sea
at Kinnagoe on a glorious day.
Once you’ve seen salt water like that,
you realise anything’s possible.
I’m unsure you wore them at all
with their round toes and garish rosettes,
they screamed twin-sets and blue rinses.
I took a few of your tops, a blouse
I did not particularly like,
knew our mother wouldn’t donate
them to the local charity shop,
but one miles and miles away
I see your slow, sad gait
walking away in my dreams,
in footwear without any socks.
But I cannot get rid of those shoes,
a size too big and no use to me.
Sometimes I slip them on,
shuffle around in my room at night,
the wine carpet muffles my steps.
A sliver of comfort
in a silver world, where you
weren’t meant to go grey after me.
Lorraine Carey is a poet and artist from Donegal. Widely published in journals and anthologies including Poetry Ireland Review, Orbis, The Honest Ulsterman, Prole, Skylight 47, Smithereens and on Poethead, her art has been featured in many journals. A Pushcart Prize nominee, her debut collection is From Doll House Windows (Revival Press).
–after Alan Shapiro
How did it begin?
We were in a rowboat. My brother and I.
The moon full and close. Touchable.
We were drifting. It was quiet, eerily quiet.
That’s when the geese came?
Bruce heard the calls first. He bolted up
and the boat bobbled. I feared we’d tip over.
He sat down, but still I could feel a tremor.
Is that when you noticed the boat was leaking?
Not then. We were busy eyeing the dark line of geese
bisecting the moon. Such melodic cacophony.
Mesmerizing. We’d never known anything like them.
Were you afraid?
Not of the geese. I worried he’d stand again,
throw us both overboard. And I was angry too.
Angry at your brother?
No, at our parents. Maybe it seems wrong
to blame them. But they’d set us adrift
without life jackets. We had nothing
to save ourselves.
Tell me about the leak.
I felt icy water, looked down
to see it swirling around my calves.
There was no bucket for bailing.
You had oars. Couldn’t you…
There was already too much water,
too much weight in the boat.
And then the geese returned.
The same flock of geese?
Maybe just more geese. Louder this time.
Insistent. I’d had enough of them, but
I could see something different in my brother,
he leaned back, relaxed his shoulders.
Was he usually tense?
Always. He resembled a turtle, head bowed,
carrying a weight. When the geese returned,
I can only say he pulled free of his shell.
Your boat was sinking.
I could see the shoreline, knew it would be
a hard swim, but thought I could make it.
You abandoned your brother?
Look, what choice did I have? I could see it
in his face. He’d already left me. Don’t you see?
It was the geese.
You saved yourself.
Yes. The water was forgiving and held me afloat.
I begged him to help himself, to follow me. But
those geese, they had this hold. They had him and
wouldn’t give him back. I swam. I saved myself.
Gail Braune Comorat is a founding member of Rehoboth Beach Writers’ Guild, and author of Phases of the Moon, and a co-author of “Walking the Sunken Boards.” Her work has appeared in Gargoyle, Grist, Mudfish, Philadelphia Stories, and The Widows’ Handbook. She lives in Lewes, Delaware where she teaches poetry and grief writing classes.
David Felix is a youthful septuagenarian English visual poet who lives in Denmark. For more than half a century his writing has taken on a variety of forms, in collage, three dimensions, in galleries, anthologies, festival performances, video and in over fifty publications worldwide, both in print and online. Born into a family of artists, magicians and tailors, he is still fully conversant with a stylus-hand-eye circuit, the needle through your thumb and a buttonhole attachment.
In Sommerlicht Schwebend
Our marriage began
the two of us on a carousel
young and lost and spinning
to the pretty music, sitting on griffins and dragons
with wooden wings and static claws
Once he introduced me to an older colleague
“Meine Verlobte,” he said
the old man took my hand with reverence to his lips
and my husband smiled in that way of his–
back and forth between us, love,
a champagne fueled badminton birdie
flying higher and higher on late summer nights
the faster the merry-go-round
the more he liked to stay on it
the same piped in music
screaming inside his head
melancholy and melody wrung out of it
like water from a dirty mop
the day the carousel spun too fast for me
he was busy spinning inane tales of power
stories of winning after losing
jobs and so many other things
I let go of the drop rod, hurdled across the Atlantic
orbit-less, like a comet without a tail
He spun on, bottle after bottle
drag after drag, year after year
chiming beer under the canopy’s striped firmament
he stayed alone with his addiction
with only the chipped menagerie to lean on
I hope his last ride was superlative and fast
a deep maze of flamboyant fantasies
wind flapping shirt and pant leg
“Look how my slip on shoes don’t fall!”
he would have shouted at my ghost twirling next to him
and breaking into his toothy smile, the gap in the middle
a channel for the dove inside him to fly through
Click here for more about Claudia Castro Luna. This poem was previously published in Psychological Perspectives.