Fall Poetry Contest - Top Ten Finalist
There once was a hurricane
that destroyed most of a cemetery Leaving only a few tombstones to remember loved ones
When I was a boy,
I used to play a game
where I would give each tombstone a note
depending on how high out of the ground it was standing, and I would just walk through the cemetery
singing the song of tiny stone angels
Even then, I knew the flats and the minors were too much for young hearts.
I stopped writing once you got cancer.
There just weren’t words that were honest anymore. We always used our words like swords and shields but what good is a shield if it’s made of glass?
The ink well your bones ran dry.
your skin sickeningly white.
Both faces empty
You can’t fill a chair with vowels or pentameter
or letters you wish you’d written.
There just aren’t words
that can fill the air
in a way that makes things different
So, we just sit in silence
and let the words we never said hang
one by one
straight into our blood hoping they’ll save us.
The last time I saw my father, he was not strong.
He was not brave
He was just reading.
He held the newspaper,
as he did every day,
and he just folded it in half,
ever careful to keep the crease
and then fell towards the table.
The ways the plates bounced
and left that double clap
is part of the song that day.
Crash, clap clap, wail, sirens, wail, shoes, wail wail, wheels on linoleum, drip drip breathe.
The song my sister’s lungs made was a sad jazz.
Just the steady roll of a crash cymbal stretching out its last shake.
Not wanting to stop dancing. Not ever.
There are little bells under the vowels on my typewriter, so when I write,
there is always a song.
But when I am away, there is still a song
in the air
in the way people blink in tombstones
and dinner plates
and the crackle of a newspaper folding.
It is with me.
embroidered on my ear drum.
I keep collecting songs.
In my next life, please let me be deaf.