Old Bones

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Only when the moon is just so,

Casting silvery shadows among the

Grays and blues

Do the outlines of the old cabins appear.

Stone piles and ruined walls,

So easily traced at midnight,

Invisible in the harsh yellows and greens

Of noon.

I was told there were slave cabins here

Long, long ago

When this was one big farm.

They lived here, many to a cabin.

That’s what I was told anyway

By my brother.

But he was older and always lied.

If not though, this is where they lived.

As kids we found treasures back there-

Rusted things,

Ruins of buckles, nails and buttons.

At night we’d build campfires and squat here,

Telling made-up stories of their long-ago lives.

Later there were bones in the corn

where desecrated graves were

Plowed up.

My brother put a stack of them under

My bed.

Told me I was now haunted

By old slave ghosts.

I didn’t really believe him then

But now I don’t know.

No bones left out in the corn, I’m sure.

But if there were,

This would be the time to find them.

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Cleveland

“Did a lot of work in this town years ago.”

I wander the city, a ghost,

Remembering those who wandered with me.

Some now dead, which is sad,

Some just gone;

Which is worse.

Down East 9th from the water and new stuff,

To the bottom.

Buildings are still here, otherwise named or purposed.

This was this, this was that.

Was I ever here? in this one?

What’s that? Is that where I went to the

Spanish Mass?

With the thick wafers and sweet red wine.

Did she live there?

He worked here on the tenth floor.

Did we lunch over there?

Was it raining?

I remember an umbrella and puddles.

Does anyone see me as I walk by?

Nobody’s busy today-not this early.

They could, if they cared to look.

I’ll touch one of them,

See if they notice.

Would I have?

Back when I had substance and bustled

Rather than wandered?

The news box lies empty and open,

Broken on its side.

Gulls peck calmly at popcorn

Strewn in the gutter

As I pass by dragging my shadow behind.

 

© – TDR 2019

Endless

My cup is empty

she snarled, rattling it

upside down to show me.

Her coffee gone,

she’d forgotten she drank it.

I refilled it,

thick and bitter,

from the back burner.

You think it’s a party

taking care of you?

Fuck you! she said

reading my mind.

Then called me by

Dad’s name,

as she spooned sugar

into the cup.

I know what you’re up to

she said, sipping carefully.

 

© TDR – 2019

Late Figs

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Will the figs ever turn?

The tomatoes, a huge crop not slowed by rot or beetles,

Are gone. Sauce in the freezer and salsa in jars.

The peppers are expanding their palette,

Greens into yellows, reds into purples.

Basil is pesto, rosemary is drying and

Cardinals are noshing the sunflowers.

But will the figs turn?

They were late arriving from their winter’s sleep but

Now they’re here in numbers-small, green and hard

Needing another month of summer

That none of us get.

Even the plants in the bottom near the stream,

Whose thick resinous buds will get us through the winter

Are ready to dry and cure.

But somehow I failed the figs.

Twenty more warm nights where the stars swim in the humidity would do.

Maybe fourteen.

But not to be.

The stars are crisp in the fall evenings and the figs,

Born but not bred, will be left to freeze,

Blackening on the naked branches.

A reminder that resurrection needs luck-

As much as faith.

 

© – TDR 2019

Now The Owl

Dusk

The sun has only just

Sunken below the ridge

When the little screech owl

(poorly named as it doesn’t screech at all)

Begins its falsetto trill

Announcing that the sun is gone;

The night games can begin.

He’s upstream-due west

Perhaps in the big sycamore.

No bigger than my fist, invisible in the gloaming

That’s fine-I don’t need to see him to

Know what he’s saying.

The evening rooster trilling the eagle home

From the hunt.

Calling the tree frogs out to sing.

The snakes have gone to ground.

Raccoons and possums shake off the days’ slumber.

Finches and towhees give way to swallows dipping and diving

After mayflies and skeeters.

Then the bats join the dance-flickering blindly in

Four directions at once.

Bull frogs thump, thump in the weeds while

Big bass-hearing and hunting-patrol the shallows under dusk’s cover.

Coyotes yip and bobcats cough and deer are free to

Roam the fields.

Venus has just risen in the pearl gray sky when

An otter snags a catfish and curls on a rock to feast.

The trilling says it’s our time now.

Stars awaken and the

Sun sleeps.

We’ll fill your dreams, it says, with the music of the ages.

© TDR 2019

Oranges and Cigarettes

The crusty brown husk bore scant resemblance

To the peel that had curled sweetly and fragrantly as she stripped it

From the squirting orange.

When?

Friday night? Saturday?

It coiled dry and stiff beside the ashtray that held the

Remains of two cigarettes she’d smoked that same night.

One, only half burned and crushed, bore a lipstick smudge.

So it had to have been Saturday.

She never felt being alone as when life’s detritus piled around her

And became permanent monuments.

Toenail clippings on the bed side table or the undershirt,

Once sweaty from yard work,

Hanging stiffly on the bathroom door.

For what?

A week? Two?

She’d get to it. All of it.

Eventually.