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John F McCullagh Aug 2018
Uncle Sam sat down across from me and placed his satchel on the floor.
It was time to pay the piper; that is God’s immutable law.
I tapped my bony finger, impatient to begin.
“That will be fifty eight thousand, Sam, starting with Tonkin.”

From his satchel, that seemed bottomless, Sam produced the cash.
“Start counting!” I demanded, as I drooled over his stash.
He started pilling Franklins up on the table there between us.
Each “C” note meant one hundred dead Due to McNamara’s genius.

Fathers and sons had fallen; young men by the score.
Just think of the girls they never kissed; the children they never saw.
Uncle Sam doled out the bills until his thumbs were sore
When he finished I took out my Scythe and swept them on the floor.

I saw Sam’s look of horror at my eyeless, nose less face.
He had counted out a treasure that he knew he can't replace.
“It was a Pleasure doing business.” Oh, how I despised that man!
Still I was certain that we’d meet often,even after Vietnam.
58,220 American men and women, my fellow boomers, died during the years of the Vietnam war. Here I imagine Uncle Sam settling the bill with an unusual accountant.
Ira Desmond Dec 2018
Last night,
I dreamt that the friend of a friend had died.

His body floated lifeless on the surface of the Pacific,
tossed about between the Bering Sea whitecaps

like an orca’s seal-pup plaything
while the Arctic wind whipped

and beat the freezing cold water
across his pallid face and through his chestnut hair.

Then his body
began to sink,

its silhouette appearing
against various monotone

canvases of blue
on its trip downward:

a vivid cornflower,
a pelagic cerulean,

a chasm of cold cobalt,
a starless twilight,

a forest of indigo,
a velvet curtain of navy.

as it reached the deepest possible shade of midnight—

only a quantum away from black—
it stopped sinking.

There, in that void,
where daylight and color are considered but outlandish theories,

strange fish of all and shapes and sizes
began to surround the decomposing corpse:

Greenland sharks hailing from the frozen arctic,
mantis shrimp from the mangrove labyrinths,

eyeless electric eels from undersea caves near the Galápagos,
vampire squid rising cautiously up out of their World War One trenches,

scores of spindly ***** and pale worms that had ventured far beyond
the safe familiarity of their alien geothermal worlds.

At first, they approached the corpse gingerly,
nibbling only the tips of its hair and fingernails,

and then suddenly, voraciously,
they consumed it—until not even a skeleton remained.

Now, only a single point of light was left
there floating in the void.

And from this single point of light,
where just a moment before the corpse had floated,

a brilliant white lattice structure emerged,
unfurling as would a fern across a forest floor.

It fanned out onto the seabed
and then swept upward, upward

back toward those reaches of sea
where color is known

and fresh air gleefully permeates
that foamy outer membrane that skirts the base of the sky.

Scores of familiar fish began to lift up the crystalline structure—
schools of shimmering sardines,

stately, dignified manta rays,
skipjacks, bluefins, and white-tips,

brilliant cuttlefish, humble pufferfish,
shifty barracuda, gargantuan whale sharks,

all of them
beating their tails in concert

to carry this lattice away,
this measure of a life,

this husk of a soul
at last freed from its earthly bindings.

The fish were carrying it somewhere deeper,
somewhere darker,

to a place that I understood—
even from the inky depths

of my dreaming mind—
that I could not enter.

But then again,
I knew that someday

I would.
stylesclash Dec 2018
a ghost dividing like math class, carrying one(self); under
the house: a crayola painting of our trust, the colors melting—
with an eyeless glare—into ****** looking numbers; 1,001
ways that you can ghost me, the updated edition, revised for
Inclusion and Diversity, so no one gets left out of getting left out.

rain reversing itself, falling up into the sky where it holds
itself in, as if a cough; an unbelief in the idea that you are “fallen”;
relationships like wrists that can be cut, so we may bleed
the same blood; love, even old, reduced to a techno of glances
never meeting—we dance, interminably, around the truth

for we have known each other once, and may never again.

as if only gadgets, we are thrown away once we outlive
our usefulness; the past, in our “tech age”, is “information”
and academic, hence we readily move on to the newest thing,
which gives us “love” as a chemical rather than as a bond.

a bond is not easily broken; love, as such, is desynthesized
with the kind of entropy that sets in on laughter—how you
reminisce with a sigh about what was just funny, but no longer.

a flash mob of fireflies describing the night of your mind,
blinking out with a cruel goodbye; illumination suspending
itself over time, only through your belief in who you are.
it’s a cinch, really

just yanking the duvet
back over yourself

the what-could-be-fun

or actually-might-not-be

and that mist
how it loves to slither up

silver venom
sour headache

eyeless demon
eyeing you up

for a laugh
a ripple of giggles

in your ears
a squall of cymbals

**** vowel-less
torrent of speech

a red light
****** iris

blinks across the shore
enough for you to bathe

in blue
confused puppet

lists of missed-outs
and the trash

you opted for instead
Written: January/April 2019.
Explanation: A poem originally written in January but edited recently for part of Savannah Brown's escapril challenge. Feedback welcome. A link to my Facebook writing page can be found on my HP home page.
MissingKid Nov 2018
You're sad because you're sad.
It's psychic. It's the age. It's chemical.
Go see a shrink or take a pill,
or hug your sadness like an eyeless doll
you need to sleep.

Well, all children are sad
but some get over it.
Count your blessings. Better than that,
buy a hat. Buy a coat or pet.
Take up dancing to forget.

Forget what?
Your sadness, your shadow,
whatever it was that was done to you
the day of the lawn party
when you came inside flushed with the sun,
your mouth sulky with sugar,
in your new dress with the ribbon
and the ice-cream smear,
and said to yourself in the bathroom,
I am not the favorite child.

My darling, when it comes
right down to it
and the light fails and the fog rolls in
and you're trapped in your overturned body
under a blanket or burning car,

and the red flame is seeping out of you
and igniting the tarmac beside your head
or else the floor, or else the pillow,
none of us is;
or else we all are.

— The End —