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Star Gazer Feb 2016
O' gravestone, O' gravestone
How you sit alone
O' gravestone, O' gravestone
'Twas a battle zone.

O' gravestone, O' gravestone
Artillery of hate hurt you
O' gravestone, O' gravestone
Blood rained red stained blue.

O' gravestone, O' gravestone
If the shells did not ricochet,
O' gravestone, O' gravestone
You might have seen today.

O' gravestone, O' gravestone
You were never the prey
O' gravestone, O' gravestone
Caught in the crossfire sprayed.

O' gravestone, O' gravestone
I miss your comfort
O' gravestone, O' gravestone
Why must I turn to you when hurt?
I finally closed a chapter of my life - my first real heartbreak. It's finally done and over with, but I realised that I turned to dead people of my past more than the live ones, i don't know if they hear me, if they probably did they'll say stuff like what a weakling or stuff. I went to one of the best people I've known taken from this world by cruel words too young. I don't know if she could hear me but she's always been the one to hold me together when i fell apart. She'd just push me to go play sports and that usually made me forget things because shed shown me that how much of a weakling i am on the court and off.  But yea, i finally closed a chapter of my life. It's pleasant in a manner to have closure.
Mitchell Duran Dec 2013
In the Fall, when the temperature of the Bay would drop and the wind blew ice, frost would gather on the lawn near Henry Oldez's room. It was not a heavy frost that spread across the paralyzed lawn, but one that just covered each blade of grass with a fine, white, almost dusty coat. Most mornings, he would stumble out of the garage where he slept and tip toe past the ice speckled patch of brown and green spotted grass, so to make his way inside to relieve himself. If he was in no hurry, he would stand on the four stepped stoop and look back at the dried, dead leaves hanging from the wiry branches of three trees lined up against the neighbors fence. The picture reminded him of what the old gallows must have looked like. Henry Oldez had been living in this routine for twenty some years.

He had moved to California with his mother, father, and three brothers 35 years ago. Henry's father, born and raised in Tijuana, Mexico, had traveled across the Meixcan border on a bent, full jalopy with his wife, Betria Gonzalez and their three kids. They were all mostly babies then and none of the brothers claimed to remember anything of the ride, except one, Leo, recalled there was "A lotta dust in the car." Santiago Oldez, San for short, had fought in World War II and died of cancer ten years later. San drank most nights and smoked two packs of Marlboro Reds a day. Henry had never heard his father talk about the fighting or the war. If he was lucky to hear anything, it would have been when San was dead drunk, talking to himself mostly, not paying very much attention to anyone except his memories and his music.

"San loved two things in this world," Henry would say, "*****, Betria, and Johnny Cash."

Betria Gonzalez grew up in Tijuana, Mexico as well. She was a stout, short woman, wide but with pretty eyes and a mess of orange golden hair. Betria could talk to anyone about anything. Her nick names were the conversationalist or the old crow because she never found a reason to stop talking. Santiago had met her through a friend of a friend. After a couple of dates, they were married. There is some talk of a dispute among the two families, that they didn't agree to the marriage and that they were too young, which they probably were. Santiago being Santiago, didn't listen to anybody, only to his heart. They were married in a small church outside of town overlooking the Pacific. Betria told the kids that the waves thundered and crashed against the rocks that day and the sea looked endless. There were no pictures taken and only three people were at the ceremony: Betria, San, and the priest.

Of course, the four boys went to elementary and high school, and, of course, none of them went to college. One brother moved down to LA and eventually started working for a law firm doing their books. Another got married at 18 years old and was in and out of the house until getting under the wing of the union, doing construction and electrical work for the city. The third brother followed suit. Henry Oldez, after high school, stayed put. Nothing in school interested him. Henry only liked what he could get into after school. The people of the streets were his muse, leaving him with the tramps, the dealers, the struggling restaurateurs, the laundry mat hookers, the crooked cops and the addicts, the gang bangers, the bible humpers, the window washers, the jesus freaks, the EMT's, the old ladies pushing salvation by every bus stop, the guy on the corner and the guy in the alley, and the DOA's. Henry didn't have much time for anyone else after all of them.

Henry looked at himself in the mirror. The light was off and the room was dim. Sunlight streaked in through the dusty blinds from outside, reflecting into the mirror and onto Henry's face. He was short, 5' 2'' or 5' 3'' at most with stubby, skinny legs, and a wide, barrel shaped chest. He examined his face, which was a ravine of wrinkles and deep crows feet. His eyes were sunken and small in his head. Somehow, his pants were always one or two inches below his waistline, so the crack of his *** would constantly be peeking out. Henry's deep, chocolate colored hair was  that of an ancient Native American, long and nearly touched the tip of his belt if he stood up straight. No one knew how long he had been growing it out for. No one knew him any other way. He would comb his hair incessantly: before and after a shower, walking around the house, watching television with Betria on the couch, talking to friends when they came by, and when he drove to work, when he had it.

Normal work, nine to five work, did not work for Henry. "I need to be my own boss," he'd say. With that fact stubbornly put in place, Henry turned to being a handy man, a roofer, and a pioneer of construction. No one knew where he would get the jobs that he would get, he would just have them one day. And whenever he 'd finish a job, he'd complain about how much they'd shorted him, soon to move on to the next one. Henry never had to listen to anyone and, most of the time, he got free lunches out of it. It was a very strange routine, but it worked for him and Betria had no complaints as long as he was bringing some money in and keeping busy. After Santiago died, she became the head of the house, but really let her boys do whatever they wanted.

Henry took a quick shower and blow dried his hair, something he never did unless he was in a hurry. He had a job in the east bay at a sorority house near the Berkley campus. At the table, still in his pajamas, he ate three leftover chicken thighs, toast, and two over easy eggs. Betria was still in bed, awake and reading. Henry heard her two dogs barking and scratching on her bedroom door. He got up as he combed his damp hair, tugging and straining to get each individual knot out. When he opened the door, the smaller, thinner dog, Boy Boy, shot under his legs and to the front door where his toy was. The fat, beige, pig-like one waddled out beside Henry and went straight for its food bowl.

"Good morning," said Henry to Betria.

Betria looked at Henry over her glasses, "You eat already?"

"Yep," he announced, "Got to go to work." He tugged on a knot.

"That's good. Dondé?" Betria looked back down at her spanish TV guide booklet.

"Berkley somewhere," Henry said, bringing the comb smoothly down through his hair.

"That's good, that's good."

"OK!" Henry sighed loudly, shutting the door behind him. He walked back to the dinner table and finished his meal. Then, Betria shouted something from her room that Henry couldn't hear.

"What?" yelled Henry, so she could hear him over the television. She shouted again, but Henry still couldn't hear her. Henry got up and went back to her room, ***** dish in hand. He opened her door and looked at her without saying anything.

"Take the dogs out to ***," Betria told him, "Out the back, not the front."

"Yeah," Henry said and shut the door.

"Come on you dogs," Henry mumbled, dropping his dish in the sink. Betria always did everyones dishes. She called it "her exercise."

Henry let the two dogs out on the lawn. The sun was curling up into the sky and its heat had melted all of the frost on the lawn. Now, the grass was bright green and Henry barely noticed the dark brown dead spots. He watched as the fat beige one squatted to ***. It was too fat to lifts its own leg up. The thing was built like a tank or a sea turtle. Henry laughed to himself as it looked up at him, both of its eyes going in opposite directions, its tongue jutted out one corner of his mouth. Boy boy was on the far end of the lawn, searching for something in the bushes. After a minute, he pulled out another one of his toys and brought it to Henry. Henry picked up the neon green chew toy shaped like a bone and threw it back to where Boy boy had dug it out from. Boy boy shot after it and the fat one just watched, waddling a few feet away from it had peed and laid down. Henry threw the toy a couple more times for Boy boy, but soon he realized it was time to go.

"Alright!" said Henry, "Get inside. Gotta' go to work." He picked up the fat one and threw it inside the laundry room hallway that led to the kitchen and the rest of the house. Boy boy bounded up the stairs into the kitchen. He didn't need anyone lifting him up anywhere. Henry shut the door behind them and went to back to his room to get into his work clothes.

Henry's girlfriend was still asleep and he made sure to be quiet while he got dressed. Tia, Henry's girlfriend, didn't work, but occasionally would put up garage sales of various junk she found around town. She was strangely obsessed with beanie babies, those tiny plush toys usually made up in different costumes. Henry's favorite was the hunter. It was dressed up in camouflage and wore an eye patch. You could take off its brown, polyester hat too, if you wanted. Henry made no complaint about Tia not having a job because she usually brought some money home somehow, along with groceries and cleaning the house and their room. Betria, again, made no complain and only wanted to know if she was going to eat there or not for the day.

A boat sized bright blue GMC sat in the street. This was Henry's car. The stick shift was so mangled and bent that only Henry and his older brother could drive it. He had traded a new car stereo for it, or something like that. He believed it got ten miles to the gallon, but it really only got six or seven. The stereo was the cleanest piece of equipment inside the thing. It played CD's, had a shoddy cassette player, and a decent radio that picked up all the local stations. Henry reached under the seat and attached the radio to the front panel. He never left the radio just sitting there in plain sight. Someone walking by could just as soon as put their elbow into the window, pluck the thing out, and make a clean 200 bucks or so. Henry wasn't that stupid. He'd been living there his whole life and sure enough, done the same thing to other cars when he was low on money. He knew the tricks of every trade when it came to how to make money on the street.

On the road, Henry passed La Rosa, the Mexican food mart around the corner from the house. Two short, tanned men stood in front of a stand of CD's, talking. He usually bought pirated music or movies there. One of the guys names was Bertie, but he didn't know the other guy. He figured either a customer or a friend. There were a lot of friends in this neighborhood. Everyone knew each other somehow. From the bars, from the grocery, from the laundromat, from the taco stands or from just walking around the streets at night when you were too bored to stay inside and watch TV. It wasn't usually safe for non-locals to walk the streets at night, but if you were from around there and could prove it to someone that was going to jump you, one could usually get away from losing a wallet or an eyeball if you had the proof. Henry, to people on the street, also went as Monk. Whenever he would drive through the neighborhood, the window open with his arm hanging out the side, he would usually hear a distant yell of "Hey Monk!" or "What's up Monk!". Henry would always wave back, unsure who's voice it was or in what direction to wave, but knowing it was a friend from somewhere.

There was heavy traffic on the way to Berkley and as he waited in line, cursing his luck, he looked over at the wet swamp, sitting there beside highway like a dead frog. A few scattered egrets waded through the brown water, their long legs keeping their clean white bodies safe from the muddy water. Beyond the swamp laid the pacific and the Golden Gate bridge. San Francisco sat there too: still, majestic, and silver. Next to the city, was the Bay Bridge stretched out over the water like long gray yard stick. Henry compared the Golden Gate's beauty with the Bay Bridge. Both were beautiful in there own way, but the Bay Bridge's color was that of a gravestone, while the Golden Gate's color was a heavy red, that made it seem alive. Why they had never decided to pain the Bay Bridge, Henry had no idea. He thought it would look very nice with a nice coat of burgundy to match the Golden gate, but knew they would never spend the money. They never do.

After reeling through the downtown streets of Berkley, dodging college kids crossing the street on their cell phones and bicyclists, he finally reached the large, A-frame house. The house was lifted, four or five feet off the ground and you had to walk up five or seven stairs to get to the front door. Surrounded by tall, dark green bushes, Henry knew these kids had money coming from somewhere. In the windows hung spinning colored glass and in front of the house was an old-timey dinner bell in the shape of triangle. Potted plants lined the red brick walkway that led to the stairs. Young tomatoes and small peas hung from the tender arms of the stems leaf stalks. The lawn was manicured and clean. "Must be studying agriculture or something," Henry thought, "Or they got a really good gardener."

He parked right in front of the house and looked the building up and down, estimating how long it would take to get the old shingles off and the new one's on. Someone was up on the deck of the house, rocking back and forth in an old wooden chair. He listened to the creaking wood of the chair and the deck, judging it would take him two days for the job. Henry knew there was no scheduled rain, but with the Bay weather, one could never be sure. He had worked in rain before - even hail - and it never really bothered him. The thing was, he never strapped himself in and when it would rain and he was working roofs, he was afraid to slip and fall. He turned his truck off, got out, and locked both of the doors. He stepped heavily up the walkway and up the stairs. The someone who was rocking back and forth was a skinny beauty with loose jean shorts on and a thick looking, black and red plaid shirt. She had long, chunky dread locks and was smoking a joint, blowing the smoke out over the tips of the bushes and onto the street. Henry was no stranger to the smell. He smoked himself. This was California.

"Who're you?" the dreaded girl asked.

"I'm the roofer," Henry told her.

The girl looked puzzled and disinterested. Henry leaned back on his heels and wondered if the whole thing was lemon. She looked beyond him, down on the street, awkwardly annoying Henry's gaze. The tools in Henry's hands began to grow heavy, so he put them down on the deck with a thud. The noise seemed to startle the girl out of whatever haze her brain was in and she looked back at Henry. Her eyes were dark brown and her skin was smooth and clear like lake water. She couldn't have been more then 20 or 21 years old. Henry realized that he was staring and looked away at the various potted plants near the rocking chair. He liked them all.

"Do you know who called you?" She took a drag from her joint.

"Brett, " Henry told her, "But they didn't leave a last name."

For a moment, the girl looked like she had been struck across the chin with a brick, but then her face relaxed and she smiled.

"Oh ****," she laughed, "That's me. I called you. I'm Brett."

Henry smiled uneasily and picked up his tools, "Ok."

"Nice to meet you," she said, putting out her hand.

Henry awkwardly put out his left hand, "Nice to meet you too."

She took another drag and exhaled, the smoke rolling over her lips, "Want to see the roof?"

The two of them stood underneath a five foot by five foot hole. Henry was a little uneasy by the fact they had cleaned up none of the shattered wood and the birds pecking at the bird seed sitting in a bowl on the coffee table facing the TV. The arms of the couch were covered in bird **** and someone had draped a large, zebra printed blanket across the middle of it. Henry figured the blanket wasn't for decoration, but to hide the rest of the bird droppings. Next to the couch sat a large, antique lamp with its lamp shade missing. Underneath the dim light, was a nice portrait of the entire house. Henry looked away from the hole, leaving Brett with her head cocked back, the joint still pinched between her lips, to get a closer look. There looked to be four in total: Brett, a very large man, a woman with longer, thick dread locks than Brett, and a extremely short man with a very large, brown beard. Henry went back
TonyC Sep 2014
At the corner, a girl child from the UK
another soft drink she chugged
Whilst the girl woman in the Sudan,
the heavy *** on head she lugged
She walked eight miles, braving ****,
to fetch unclean water from the well
Whilst in the UK, the girl bought designer clothes
to make her feel just swell

God where are the waters of life?
To end their strife

At the mall, the boy child ate his third Hershey bar
In Malawi the boy man’s
stomach had extended too far
Malnutrition had sealed his fate


God where is the cereal?
To make their lives non-ephemeral

Down under, the son celebrated with family,
presents and cake
his father’s 100th milestone
Whilst in war torn Syria, a son, now orphan
buried his young murdered father,
in ground without a gravestone


God when will the fighting cease?
To give them a chance of peace


Is this God’s confusion?
That though we are all made the same,
some people their innocence shattered
are headed for a terrifying fate
whilst others fully satiated and secure,
sip their drinks, polish off and request another plate
Or does God if he exists
not love the weak and oppressed?
kevin hamilton Feb 2015
someday she will spit on my gravestone
eyes glistening, lips red and hands full
standing in the blanket of fog alone
her shadow gracing the aging marble
like the eventual darkening of a monolith
by the temper of the sun setting
at the fall of a holy empire and with
a desperate, widespread bloodletting
I try to hard to perfect it... someone has to notice my effort.
I drown my sorrows in a  book, cramming information into my "empty" mind according society.
I am on a high from caffeine , I have to be superwoman.. save the day, save the world and stuff...

I give my all , fight to the last second but my best is not good enough anymore. In my own highway of dreams I carry coffins of rejects.....
I am tired of writing my "wrongs" that society identified..
I am tired of being perfect and tired of being tired...

I was not good enough for my mother, who chose to find acceptance in a bottle...I had a boy for a father and a judge as society..
As time stands still I engrave all the "rejects" in my gravestone ....
Here lived a soul not goo enough for society..

I stand bu the coast and shut my eyes .. the breeze hits against my face and for a moment I feel free....
I take these white pills and for a moment I am free,,, acceptable..
I swim in these intoxicating liquid and for a second I am free... acceptable to society,, Good enough....
i have a break at 12 o'clock
will you please come over
you don’t have to knock
i’ll leave the door open
it will be unlocked
a bouquet of flowers
i’ll have in stock
a vase and a candle
a knife and a blade
a face and a cigarette
its all about the way we explain
i mean rationalize away
do time-lines justify our decline into tyranny
send me back again to sublime infancy
retrofit the celibate instigator
lemniscate the elephant’s fingerprints
impress me with wit and charm
storm troopers unarmed
star-gazers, shadow-haters, sand-blasters, ice-skaters,
morning's lovers, fathers, daughters, shoulders and elbows
rub brows and crease foreheads
wrinkles in your timelines
define lines as destiny unwinds
reminds me of blinding light
the heights of old empires
sire warriors, stories as tall as soldiers
for real, heal the split between mind and body
kindly, lovingly, bump up against me
and kiss me again
i am music fused together with eternity
space and dust and rusted armpits
a hundred diamonds, drops of sweat
skin like leather, weatherproof, foolproof too
determine to use it all
for you are the muse of all
do as you need to
fuse it together lest it come apart again
return to heaven and mend the tear
split the hair or the atom
magic is a language
tragic is the cancerous neglect of syntax
emptiness is manic
gargantuan attacks of presence
defenseless, we are taught worthless ****
neglect it, but remember important words
stories, looms of drawings
forming in my mind’s eye
i cannot be bought or controlled by pirates
the best moments are private
you are not invited
so go home and create your own zone of entertainment
its necessary
your gentle fingers
blessing my soul
courage to roll with life’s blows
no need for stoics
or poets who deny reality’s arguments
slippery slopes
walking tight ropes
can you cope with all this mistletoe
restring your bow
dance in the snow as if everyone knows
you are crazy in love with the whole
motionless vision swift as an arrow
roofless rooms
prom queens flip you off and turn you on
sons and daughters, lions of the prairie
a child portable and small
respects the walls that you’ve made
they are not your cage but your shelter
self culture is affluent and not arrogant
sand mandalas tall as waterfalls
golden rainbows pour from the faucet in the sky
like mighty images
wisdom bridges the gaps in our imagination
i can’t wait to get this on the page
written in stone, reflecting thrones
made from the bones of pharaohs
consciousness narrows as you approach
are you a cockroach, coach or a student
strokes of wonder for different folks
cold call your own homes
do you prioritize lightning over thunder
words over rubber
sandwiches to clutter
are you interested in diamonds or other
precious gemstones
that flutter like butterflies when i utter
emeralds like butter
do you waste time arranging your clutter
stuttering utter nonsense
frequencies wasted, gentleness chased away
fantasies radioactive
magic lacks targets
darkens our fathers
keep chasing actions
satisfaction is attractive
your eyes are like fragments of rubies in the fire
i see beauty in desire, features in the sky
i look skyward and see higher
minds are wired to remain stagnant
stranded in a lack of entertainment
change this and make your own amazement
wonder over thunder, lick me down under
gone asunder like the burning acropolis
topple this bottomlessness
can't stop this, its impossible
i wonder do you make blunders
in underground mountains
we shout words like fountains shoot water
curtains topple over
and form a blanket over our consciousness
after our performances
swarms of crazy people leave the theater
shattered and too stunned to speak
to ****** to leak they keep walking down south
toward Plymouth Rock,
Mammoth Mountian or Rehoboth Beach
take stock of the situation and just move
first one out is rewarded
sordid and sorted like straw from the hay stacks
caskets of black iron casings
tastings of wine whose shelf-life is expired
past due cheese overripe and stinky
like mustard dusted with lightning
striking on time is all that we have
thinking that was a close call
we fall down and get up, remove the uppercuts
and lowercases from our mouths
doubt is a ***** word heard too often,
coughing from a coffin she offers me her hand
cold as ice cream, these nouns are deafening
love is lazy like a muffin
and hot like a dumpling
but a liaison with time cannot be rushed
i have lived long enough to learn this
a privilege to give birth to this moment
again and again vintage feathers
send me your sweaters
detest impostors who give robotic answers
i am in wonder at all this grammar
that i was unaware of
ignorant as mustard
and smooth like custard
in this blustery weather
i am glad i wore a sweater
and have an umbrella
to keep me dry and safe
i am in love walking toward the gate
and boarding that plane
i am your heart served on a plate
with a side of coleslaw, soul food for dinner
you are a winner and i am your hunger
a porcelain gravestone
a copper bathtub with claws
stored in your basement
storerooms cold as a skating rink
please don't think, unless its about me
let sentences drift away
while we chase arguments from yesterday's
armistice

Swells May 2017
fragile, a storm raged in her throat
fingers clenched tighter than the hold
between a father and a motherless child
flowers plucked and sewn among the gravestone
that never fed the soil beyond a week old
that never took back the mind from the piles
left out behind what was once home
tangled in the weeds between sinking knees
and gritted-through-the-teeth-apologies
her body collapsed and heaved
as lightning licked at the trees
with the last shuffling of cold feet
she fell past the tremors and trembling
and knew not what it was like to be free
but what it meant to leave prematurely.
Carl Sandburg  Feb 2010
Prairie
I WAS born on the prairie and the milk of its wheat, the red of its clover, the eyes of its women, gave me a song and a slogan.

Here the water went down, the icebergs slid with gravel, the gaps and the valleys hissed, and the black loam came, and the yellow sandy loam.
Here between the sheds of the Rocky Mountains and the Appalachians, here now a morning star fixes a fire sign over the timber claims and cow pastures, the corn belt, the cotton belt, the cattle ranches.
Here the gray geese go five hundred miles and back with a wind under their wings honking the cry for a new home.
Here I know I will hanker after nothing so much as one more sunrise or a sky moon of fire doubled to a river moon of water.

The prairie sings to me in the forenoon and I know in the night I rest easy in the prairie arms, on the prairie heart..    .    .
        After the sunburn of the day
        handling a pitchfork at a hayrack,
        after the eggs and biscuit and coffee,
        the pearl-gray haystacks
        in the gloaming
        are cool prayers
        to the harvest hands.

In the city among the walls the overland passenger train is choked and the pistons hiss and the wheels curse.
On the prairie the overland flits on phantom wheels and the sky and the soil between them muffle the pistons and cheer the wheels..    .    .
I am here when the cities are gone.
I am here before the cities come.
I nourished the lonely men on horses.
I will keep the laughing men who ride iron.
I am dust of men.

The running water babbled to the deer, the cottontail, the gopher.
You came in wagons, making streets and schools,
Kin of the ax and rifle, kin of the plow and horse,
Singing Yankee Doodle, Old Dan Tucker, Turkey in the Straw,
You in the coonskin cap at a log house door hearing a lone wolf howl,
You at a sod house door reading the blizzards and chinooks let loose from Medicine Hat,
I am dust of your dust, as I am brother and mother
To the copper faces, the worker in flint and clay,
The singing women and their sons a thousand years ago
Marching single file the timber and the plain.

I hold the dust of these amid changing stars.
I last while old wars are fought, while peace broods mother-like,
While new wars arise and the fresh killings of young men.
I fed the boys who went to France in great dark days.
Appomattox is a beautiful word to me and so is Valley Forge and the Marne and Verdun,
I who have seen the red births and the red deaths
Of sons and daughters, I take peace or war, I say nothing and wait.

Have you seen a red sunset drip over one of my cornfields, the shore of night stars, the wave lines of dawn up a wheat valley?
Have you heard my threshing crews yelling in the chaff of a strawpile and the running wheat of the wagonboards, my cornhuskers, my harvest hands hauling crops, singing dreams of women, worlds, horizons?.    .    .
        Rivers cut a path on flat lands.
        The mountains stand up.
        The salt oceans press in
        And push on the coast lines.
        The sun, the wind, bring rain
        And I know what the rainbow writes across the east or west in a half-circle:
        A love-letter pledge to come again..    .    .
      Towns on the Soo Line,
      Towns on the Big Muddy,
      Laugh at each other for cubs
      And tease as children.

Omaha and Kansas City, Minneapolis and St. Paul, sisters in a house together, throwing slang, growing up.
Towns in the Ozarks, Dakota wheat towns, Wichita, Peoria, Buffalo, sisters throwing slang, growing up..    .    .
Out of prairie-brown grass crossed with a streamer of wigwam smoke-out of a smoke pillar, a blue promise-out of wild ducks woven in greens and purples-
Here I saw a city rise and say to the peoples round world: Listen, I am strong, I know what I want.
Out of log houses and stumps-canoes stripped from tree-sides-flatboats coaxed with an ax from the timber claims-in the years when the red and the white men met-the houses and streets rose.

A thousand red men cried and went away to new places for corn and women: a million white men came and put up skyscrapers, threw out rails and wires, feelers to the salt sea: now the smokestacks bite the skyline with stub teeth.

In an early year the call of a wild duck woven in greens and purples: now the riveter's chatter, the police patrol, the song-whistle of the steamboat.

To a man across a thousand years I offer a handshake.
I say to him: Brother, make the story short, for the stretch of a thousand years is short..    .    .
What brothers these in the dark?
What eaves of skyscrapers against a smoke moon?
These chimneys shaking on the lumber shanties
When the coal boats plow by on the river-
The hunched shoulders of the grain elevators-
The flame sprockets of the sheet steel mills
And the men in the rolling mills with their shirts off
Playing their flesh arms against the twisting wrists of steel:
        what brothers these
        in the dark
        of a thousand years?.    .    .
A headlight searches a snowstorm.
A funnel of white light shoots from over the pilot of the Pioneer Limited crossing Wisconsin.

In the morning hours, in the dawn,
The sun puts out the stars of the sky
And the headlight of the Limited train.

The fireman waves his hand to a country school teacher on a bobsled.
A boy, yellow hair, red scarf and mittens, on the bobsled, in his lunch box a pork chop sandwich and a V of gooseberry pie.

The horses fathom a snow to their knees.
Snow hats are on the rolling prairie hills.
The Mississippi bluffs wear snow hats..    .    .
Keep your hogs on changing corn and mashes of grain,
    O farmerman.
    Cram their insides till they waddle on short legs
    Under the drums of bellies, hams of fat.
    **** your hogs with a knife slit under the ear.
    Hack them with cleavers.
    Hang them with hooks in the hind legs..    .    .
A wagonload of radishes on a summer morning.
Sprinkles of dew on the crimson-purple *****.
The farmer on the seat dangles the reins on the rumps of dapple-gray horses.
The farmer's daughter with a basket of eggs dreams of a new hat to wear to the county fair..    .    .
On the left-and right-hand side of the road,
        Marching corn-
I saw it knee high weeks ago-now it is head high-tassels of red silk creep at the ends of the ears..    .    .
I am the prairie, mother of men, waiting.
They are mine, the threshing crews eating beefsteak, the farmboys driving steers to the railroad cattle pens.
They are mine, the crowds of people at a Fourth of July basket picnic, listening to a lawyer read the Declaration of Independence, watching the pinwheels and Roman candles at night, the young men and women two by two hunting the bypaths and kissing bridges.
They are mine, the horses looking over a fence in the frost of late October saying good-morning to the horses hauling wagons of rutabaga to market.
They are mine, the old zigzag rail fences, the new barb wire..    .    .
The cornhuskers wear leather on their hands.
There is no let-up to the wind.
Blue bandannas are knotted at the ruddy chins.

Falltime and winter apples take on the smolder of the five-o'clock November sunset: falltime, leaves, bonfires, stubble, the old things go, and the earth is grizzled.
The land and the people hold memories, even among the anthills and the angleworms, among the toads and woodroaches-among gravestone writings rubbed out by the rain-they keep old things that never grow old.

The frost loosens corn husks.
The Sun, the rain, the wind
        loosen corn husks.
The men and women are helpers.
They are all cornhuskers together.
I see them late in the western evening
        in a smoke-red dust..    .    .
The phantom of a yellow rooster flaunting a scarlet comb, on top of a dung pile crying hallelujah to the streaks of daylight,
The phantom of an old hunting dog nosing in the underbrush for muskrats, barking at a **** in a treetop at midnight, chewing a bone, chasing his tail round a corncrib,
The phantom of an old workhorse taking the steel point of a plow across a forty-acre field in spring, hitched to a harrow in summer, hitched to a wagon among cornshocks in fall,
These phantoms come into the talk and wonder of people on the front porch of a farmhouse late summer nights.
"The shapes that are gone are here," said an old man with a cob pipe in his teeth one night in Kansas with a hot wind on the alfalfa..    .    .
Look at six eggs
In a mockingbird's nest.

Listen to six mockingbirds
Flinging follies of O-be-joyful
Over the marshes and uplands.

Look at songs
Hidden in eggs..    .    .
When the morning sun is on the trumpet-vine blossoms, sing at the kitchen pans: Shout All Over God's Heaven.
When the rain slants on the potato hills and the sun plays a silver shaft on the last shower, sing to the bush at the backyard fence: Mighty Lak a Rose.
When the icy sleet pounds on the storm windows and the house lifts to a great breath, sing for the outside hills: The Ole Sheep Done Know the Road, the Young Lambs Must Find the Way..    .    .
Spring slips back with a girl face calling always: "Any new songs for me? Any new songs?"

O prairie girl, be lonely, singing, dreaming, waiting-your lover comes-your child comes-the years creep with toes of April rain on new-turned sod.
O prairie girl, whoever leaves you only crimson poppies to talk with, whoever puts a good-by kiss on your lips and never comes back-
There is a song deep as the falltime redhaws, long as the layer of black loam we go to, the shine of the morning star over the corn belt, the wave line of dawn up a wheat valley..    .    .
O prairie mother, I am one of your boys.
I have loved the prairie as a man with a heart shot full of pain over love.
Here I know I will hanker after nothing so much as one more sunrise or a sky moon of fire doubled to a river moon of water..    .    .
I speak of new cities and new people.
I tell you the past is a bucket of ashes.
I tell you yesterday is a wind gone down,
  a sun dropped in the west.
I tell you there is nothing in the world
  only an ocean of to-morrows,
  a sky of to-morrows.

I am a brother of the cornhuskers who say
  at sundown:
        To-morrow is a day.
Larry Potter  Jul 2013
Vestige
Larry Potter Jul 2013
A cumulonimbus caused the gloom that day. It went shedding drops of rain that looked like bead of pearls glittering in the grey autumn sky, vanishing as they plunge on leafless laurel trees and solitary cypresses. He watched them dance to pitter-patter on every umbrella that opened towards the heavens, their colors of rich black calling out to such empathy. Finally, the drops kiss the graze of withered grasses and thirsty dandelions, reviving their foliage and greenness. Slowly, the rainfall collect to become one with soil and mud crawled down to the six feet depression where a coffin was laid. It was white like ivory and carved with elaborate insignias as a token of love and undying memories. Soon, it was all covered with crimson roses that carry the last parting words of the bereaved. The priest waved out his hands above with mournful eyes, lisping his beseeching of earnest favors while spades of loam filled up the burrow. He saw faces of despair around the pit, gasping for reprieve and sympathy. If only the rain could also bring back her life, he implored.

This, in his senses, was belongingness. This, in his heart, was death.

It had been two long weeks since Roxanne’s death and Vincent couldn’t get his feet back on the ground. He still couldn’t believe he had lost her and that their seemingly endless love has flown away from him for all eternity. He’d make believe that this was all just a dream and at some point of this nightmare he would finally be unchained and awakened. Days became niches of shackled memories that kept haunting his love-fletched soul and nights were nothing more than a requiem of lovelorn longings that still linger in his mind. He remembers it all, the feel of her name on his lips, the smell of her hair, and the sound of her laugh. Everything is still as fresh as the dewdrops of June and as vivid as the most cinematic imagery a mortal could immortalize. The ultimate fight of this melodramatic transition was to remain whole when all the strength Vincent has built up begins to crumble by a mere reminiscence of the tragedy that gets freeze-framed from beginning to end over and over again.

It was a rainy Friday evening on the 22nd of May and everyone’s feeling the smell of the weekend rush. Vincent was already at a friend's house party and called Roxanne that he’ll be waiting. Roxanne was driving the Lexus behind a small truck that seemed to plod toward the upcoming red light. She was a few minutes late on her way and watching these two people ahead of her jabber away in that truck was getting her out of her ecstatic  mood. The light turned green, but the truck too slowly moved forward. Roxanne became frustrated as the driver fixated to the right. He visibly gasped at what was just about to come into her view. A brand new grey-blue Chevy Silverado blazed through the opposing stop light to broadside his little truck. Roxanne tried to stop, but her car slid into the Chevy's rear side and went tossing down the highway to an explosion.

All these is what Vincent needs to drown himself to agony. It’s as if Atlas gave up the bearing of the world for him to endure. Wretched and perplexed was he, blaming the world for such a prejudiced conspiracy. How could an angel like Roxanne be bound to such an end? How could an invincible love become vulnerable on the visage of death? But then again, his heart starts to concoct a spell of phantasm, bringing back the most prized memories of him and her together, infiltrating his whole system and gaining power over the bitterness and pain. In this test of sensations, he himself wasn’t sure if this two-edged delusion is a boon or bane. But one thing was becoming clear to him-he cannot be like this for the rest of his life. If this nightmare must be proven real, he must find a way out. Whatever may lie ahead, he must keep going, recreate his own world and be able to break free from the fetters of this mishap that surely promises him nothing but living scars, frustrations and sorrow.

Two years have passed and the town of New Hope has undergone a lot of changes. New coffee shops and cafes run down a block away from the University premise as well as convenient stores and parlors. New establishments stood welcoming and billboards mushroomed the skyway. The streets are crowded with more and more busy people, indicative of a metropolitan evolution of lifestyle. Summer has ended and without a trace, the arid autumn and the frigid winter fluttered to oblivion.

The same is true for New Hope University which, in its current enrollment period, has its student population increased by two thousand. The institute’s remarkable performance rating in board examinations and national competitions attracted other towns to invest their education to the latter. It was nearly the start of class and everyone is busy catching up the enrollment pace. But not Vincent, who, in the first day of inception has already completed the enrollment process. He was ecstatic, more of curious how his life as a senior student could turn into this academic year. He met faces of different kinds-some familiar and some entirely strangers. Those he doesn’t recognize would just pause and pay a smile while others he knew jsut pass by and make him feel invisible. On a ledge in front of his course department’s office he sat. He in himself was New Hope town in human transfiguration- braver, brighter and better. He looked from afar, with eyes playing on the nimble of heads and shoulders of people passing through the corridor. He drenched himself to an illusion of how each head turns toward him with a infectious smile, that once in a while, happiness is sought even in the gallows of solitude. Solitude-it wasn’t a strange name to him anymore. It never was. He was entangled with it on that day the sickles of death took his love away. Somehow, through the passage of time, the wound that was scourged deep in his heart has mended and the thought of being alone became amusing that he has managed to laugh about it over the seasons. He is more human now, away from the devious portal of his mundane imagining.

The daydream was shattered when out of the blue a silhouette of a familiar figure took the stage. She was elegantly tall, with hair of pure ebony lolling on her shoulders. Each step enraptures, and each gentle sway of a hand is a compelling rhythm. She draws closer to where he was and he's left slack jawed. She entered the office and he was back to his senses. Maybe not. What he beheld was something farfetched, something that he cannot comprehend. Vincent saw it all coming back to him. A remnant of his long buried love has come to life. It was Roxanne and it is more certain than breathing. He couldn’t explain what he felt. It was a maelstrom of joy and surprise, of hope and fear. It was the face he yearned to see, so long that the yearning turned to hate and despair. But now that it came to pass, his humanity fell apart. Although he is a mere victim of his own circumstances, the serendipity took a shot straight to his heart and there is nothing he could do about it.

Perhaps there is, and he is now pretty preoccupied. He wanted to know her. He must unknot this puzzle that has challenged his whole conviction. He must find every answer and throw all of its questions behind. Whatever there is that the road has in store for him is not essential anymore. He couldn’t care less to fathom this enigma and once more, find something worth living. But now that he is hanging in midair, he planned to fall back. He jumped out of the ledge and headed out the campus, afraid that she might be at sight and all the strength in him shall subside. He was up all night, thinking of how he could get a chance to meet and talk to her. He had thoughts of crafting schemes, devising methods and inventing tricks.

And nothing of it worked.

The first day of class commenced. New Hope University is buzzing with ecstatic students. Vincent giggled with utmost excitement, carelessly bumping shoulders and brushing elbows with other students in the corridors.  He molested his tattered COR and skimmed for his first class. It is in room 101 scheduled 9:00. He reviewed through the digital clock and he hurried as it ticked to 8:58. Luckily, he is safe from prime tardiness, though he seemed to be the last comer. He seated at the back, knowing that after thirty minutes, he’d helplessly succumb to napping since it is his favorite subject-English 8, Technical Writing.

And so she happened.

It was her, Roxanne’s doppelganger who broke the charts. She was 15 minutes late and unforgivably beautiful with her sequined tee and skinny jeans. She realized what she has gotten into and apologized with the kindest gesture. The professor gave her a hand and led her to the seat beside Vincent. She felt awkward. He was worse. They both sat like lifeless puppets with the puppeteer gone until she broke the silence.

“I’m Katherine,” she muttered. “Katherine Evans, glad to be your block mate”. She took it off with a smile that sent Vincent to hyperventilation. He couldn’t shake her hands. They’re already shaking with butterflies. The poor guy mounted his strength. He could not afford to lose the chance. “Vincent, Vincent Smith”. That was all and a nod. It was rare for Vincent to survive the thirty-minute nap attack but he did this time, although the victory seemed unnoticed. They enjoyed the remaining hour sharing thoughts and ideas with Vincent succeeding in all his attempts to stint his best jokes. He has come to know who she is at the basics-a transferee from Dakota University, a cheerleader and an adventurist. He also looks forward to know more about her in the days to come- hoping that she likes cheese, watching live wrestling fights and attending Sunday mass.

Perhaps she doesn't.

Two weeks was enough a time for the two of them to get closer to each other. They were both open to let the affinity they share to grow and blossom. It was very apparent that the two knew where their relationship is going and they both seemed ready for it.

Months have passed and the two were no more than couples. But Vincent was too overwhelmed of what he had let enter his life. Katherine is no Roxanne. She doesn’t like cheese, wrestling or Sunday masses. She was more self-driven, conceited and unwelcoming. Sooner he realized that he isn’t in love with Katherine, nor will he ever be. He just created his Utopia by painting Roxanne’s memories on Katherine’s facade. He believed to have loved again and he believed in vain.

It was a candlelight dinner at Katherine's and it was all set. She suggested it herself. She would always do this, steering their affair on a one man tag and turning the tides whichever she likes it to be. She seemed obsessed about Vincent, about their friendship, about their bond. This was her biggest mistake: to let Vincent get drowned in her self-consumed devotion.

Vincent is on his way. To break her heart.

When he came, Katherine pranced in glee. She presented the menu. And the drinks too. She was on the midst of telling Vincent her summer getaway plans when he told her to stop and listen. He undid it to her gently by taking all the blames, that it was his butter fingered actions which led them both bruised and bleeding. It was a self-defeating battle preordained by the gods. A tear fell down from Katherine’s eyes, and she didn’t want to show him more. She fled her way out the dining room with a tormented soul, like Aphrodite torn by Adonis, and hurried to her room with the banging of the door. Vincent was left with only the deafening silence, keeping his severed heart together.

As he sat out there slowly losing substance, he began to notice a set of picture frames that showed two happy faces, one of them Vincent was able to recognize in just a matter of seconds. But what puzzled him most is the picture's relevance to Katherine. He thought of a reason to make his way out the riddle. He looked closer to the girl beside Roxanne and found a spot of mole that was identical to Katherine's.

Vincent stumbled to a discovery he wished he had never known.

On the night Roxanne met death, she was not alone. She was with company. The girl that happened to live is Vicky Duran, Roxanne’s best friend. She was secretly in love with Vincent. And she was prepared to change her entire life for a streak of a chance that she’ll have what she was living for.

And she almost succeeded.

Vincent, still staggered on how things turned out insane, went to Roxanne’s grave. He shattered from an implosion of mixed emotions and he cried out like a child who lost his treasured toy. He curled on the ground with so much pain and bearing contained inside him. He called out Roxanne’s name with pure longing, bringing back his old self and his memories of that grey autumn, of that unwanted Friday that took her life away.

Footsteps cracked from the ground and Vincent ceased his outburst of melancholy.

“Let me end your misery,” a trembling voice came from behind him. It was Vicky, whose face is neither Roxanne’s nor Katherine’s. It was a face of a hopeless woman, wretched and determined for something. She was wearing rugged clothes and she held a gun on her hand. To Vicky, living is no different from death. She has now understood why the very person she loves has turned away from her when she gave all that she never was. But the realization priced too much of her reality that she cannot anymore take back. She decided to **** him and then take her own life.

She pointed the gun towards Vincent. He jumped at her to take the gun away. They grappled on the ground, the weapon still on Vicky’s hands. Vincent managed to overpower her but she kicked him, tumbling back to the gravestone. A shot was heard from afar with a man’s cry.

It rained that day. Brown withered leaves of tall laurels hovered with the wind while branches of solitary Cypresses dance to every whirl. The breeze whispered to the clouds of grey, a mark of autumn’s return. Vincent crawled to Roxanne's grave. It was a weeping of a true love that echoed away. Raindrops keep descending from the heavens, washing away the blood that kept flowing to the ground of mud.  Perhaps, on the last moments of his life he found happiness, even from a love that was never his to keep.

 

- by Larry Potter
clem turner Jan 2017
Here lies the parking lot
Where I sat, waiting,
For therapy sessions
And Taco Bell.

And here I will stay,
Forever waiting for
Never-coming therapy
And Taco Bell.
Sarah  Aug 2013
Gravestone
Sarah Aug 2013
To think
I thought of you
For hours on end
To think
I trusted you
Put my heart in your hands
To think
I opened up to you
My dark thoughts filtering in
To think
I missed you
There's no way you missed me too
And I knew I'd be alone
I just didn't think like this
And I knew you'd leave me
But who would've thought?
Who would've known?
I'd end up looking at your gravestone

— The End —