January 1st, 2017

poetry, exceptindreams

Fathomless | Sydney Lea

“Fathomless”
Sydney Lea

I remember that store, and the nasty redneck whose stink
seemed a challenge to everyone in it. The scene
is decades old, but I’m still confused that no one
took up the challenge—including me, though I liked
an occasional fight back then. The prospect of pain

meant less to me once, I guess. An aneurism
had just killed my brother, so the pain I’m talking about
was my body’s. I breathed up another pain that day.
I checked the man’s beat pickup; why would he want them,
those skunks knee-deep in its bed? I left the lot

still more confused, my sweet retriever shivering
on the seat beside me. The godawful smell still clung
to the dog’s wet coat, and my own. There’d be no more hikes
for us that morning: rain had arrived, bone-chilling.
If you killed a skunk, why would you keep the thing?

To kill some time, I stopped at The Jackpot View.
We’ve always called it that. Five mountaintops bled
into mists to my east in New Hampshire. The sudden squalls
spilled leaves on the woods-floor’s pall of nondescript hue.
Now he was dead. Now my brother was dead.

I can’t define any God, but only this morning,
I caught a whiff of road-killed skunk and thought
I could speak of Him or Her or It as surely
as I could tell you the slightest thing concerning
the man I’m remembering now, the one who shot

or trapped or clubbed those miserable reeking creatures.
The smallest enigmas we ever encounter remain
as hard to explain as all the epical ones.
I’ve failed for years to fathom the death of my brother;
but it’s just as hard to understand why a scene

in an old Vermont store should linger like dead-skunk odor,
which if you’ve lately been tainted comes back to scent you
whenever a rain blows in—or like some pains
you may have thought you’d forever gotten over,
but which at some odd prompting come back to haunt you.
poetry, exceptindreams

There Have Come Soft Rains | John Philip Johnson

“There Have Come Soft Rains”
John Philip Johnson

In kindergarten during the Cold War,
mid-day late bells jolted us,
sending us single file into the hallway,
where we sat, pressing our heads
between our knees, waiting.

During one of the bomb drills,
Annette was standing.
My mother said I would talk on and on
about her, about how pretty she was.
I still remember her that day,
curly hair and pretty dress,
looking perturbed the way
little children do.
Why Annette? There’s nothing
to be upset about—
The bombs won’t get us,
I’ve seen what’s to come—
it is the days, the steady
pounding of days, like gentle rain,
that will be our undoing.