A Boy from My Street
Stretching for everness
to cure a menial ailment,
torch inked-up headlines
cause Earth's out of kilter,
but not his evening lake,
my neighborhood lad
wound his way to war.
Now two streets over
they know his name,
spill it from their lips,
gasp it once, think it's
too far away to count,
an ocean in between,
never sound it again.
Once You Shared
Twilight lashes us,
which always wasn't this way,
this step in another direction.
Now my mouth
is against your wetness
and all youÕve shaken loose.
I hear you say
you have waited
forever for this talk of mine.
will I argue for the hours
we have lost getting here.
Letter to My Sweet-smelling Woman Waiting
Ah sweet marrow ganglia matter of mind what inviolable pleasure brings me to my typer this time of night in the moonspill mooncream what draws me this way and that from my outer to my inner am I all questions in this mushrooming quiet and dark of night this sound of dead foxes hanging thinly with leaves the den not returned to mother hunted while hunting and dogged down this deep of night this dread of sleeping while my mind can still move its way over the wave of things can extrapolate conjure figment articulate touch smell know once again the musk I could die for right now this instant this eternity for my nares have the memory of fingers and the dry pulp beneath my nails is your deepest residue of love I cannot manicure away lasting and Epicurean ashes of these fires.
I see suck words on lips I see the drip of syllables phonetics of some word rock buried in you as deeply as mine sunless and miles deep past the six hundred miles an hour that our impulses travel from mind to extremities of selves to fingers of satisfaction to fingers knowledge to lips say to eyes move to pits of breast set into teeth like caraway seeds (oh I love the working memory as my tongue worries a pit like a cavity beginning –I form words for you at the touch) what tangible ghost of nights past is near me touching like grass or a spider web not quite there who the spirit travels its hands and lips and words against my ears myself my all as if ChapmanÕs Homer has its speech and touches to me I I am alone atop Darien this abominable night though I have shares and am shared oh shared by madness oh stung by stars and simple grass Oh, listen believe me daughter of words holder of the precious word rock, I am moonmaster starriser suncatcher burster of cometing yea a farmer plugging word songs but a listener of your night watches walker of your dreams the evil-doer doing done that far thin voice of a star moving on you oh dream death at morning light ah it is lonely the fox is dead I hear the dogs cry above the clash of leaves the horn empties its wail on wind the den not returned to the young wait cold and hungry the burrow walls close in in cool pneumatics the ferret comes slowly at first teasing his mouth waters saliva runs oozing like sperm his back arches he tingles oh love IÕd love to come to your mouth to have your lips holding me is volcanic thought furnace-like the blade of your tongue is ever merciless why are you so unkind to me why cut memoryÕs cut do my veins intrigue you my capillaries crawl like others crawl except when you loose your tongue you are mad! mad! but I bid you I bid you come at me once all mouth all imagination all energy I would know no other night nor own one I am doomed pusher of thought darer of deeds worder of words I am doomed who such lip when such thigh take the angle of my eye lest I lose that nearing breast bring your mouth where youÕve caressed use your tongue as gallant blade my private parts to invade I moonmaster master of words roper of stars brander of herds of Pegasus flock beg your tongue talk let it be known beneath your bone I love your curves and wanting nerves sleep comes now just sifting through me pushing its delights into the barest ends of me the torture of a sugar remembered thighs intersect triangle of nerves coming away more slowly than an old rusty sled downhill excruciatingly lovely from the pitch of parting once past time I shot at a doe and oh! I missed! I missed!
Through the long slanting of the gray day
I, mute and immobile, watched my son through
The window, saw him use hands as tools, arms
Working hard as crowbars, an energy split of
The sun, my atom building a fort housed of dreams.
Oh, years close such ugly jaws between father
And son, between the old and the dreaming,
Between the looking back and the looking forward,
So I cheat sometimes and think the looking back
Has more magic, the greater reserves of splendor.
It happens when I stop at task to breathe against
The hot sun or feel the night with a caress
Faint but daring as a girl once known near darkness.
Looking back is more than perfume time; itÕs past
Perfume, past touch, past the wonder of guessing.
ItÕs back in the prehistory of dreams and daring
When I was him and building a fort to house dreams
And perhaps my father loved me from a window.
ItÕs touching on the magic of Roland and Arthur,
On Charlemagne, Richard who roared, and red-crossed
Phalanxes moving as a wedge at a word or cry.
ItÕs where Beowulf has gone, to a land and time
Not to be known by me again, to a place called
Childhood, the true democracy of imagination.
Looking, I was delirious for him, felt the happy
Stones banging the barrel of my chest for him;
He was knowing what I had known and lost along
The way like a red-lit caboose cutting a curve
In the dimness that was my little years.
I ached, knowing that I had come of age, of importance,
That my little dreams are cries for peace
And sweat is sold for food to fill his mouth.
The world had fallen in my path and I had scaled
A mountain away from him. I wanted to leap
Chuteless from its peak into his time, to know
Once more the sense of glory and romance
In all things the mind has fingers for.
In the evening, pink threatening red on the horizon,
He finally came to me, the seven years of him
And a day of his days enfolding more mystery than fog.
ÒCome with me,Ó he said, eyes of minersÕ lamps,
A face blacker than coal is black, where dirt
Had so much freedom you would think he had never
Been clean, had never been discomforted by soap.
ÒMy fort, itÕs over here. ItÕs secret and mine.
IÕll show it to you. Only once, though. Big people
ArenÕt supposed to be here.Ó
Quiet, motionless as a beached ship, the fort
Was built against a split-trunk maple tree;
Limbs bare and black hung over a pit nearer
Darkness than all the caves I had known.
Canopied arms rigid over a small darkness
Huddling like a rabbit down the barrel of a rifle.
I turned back on myself, into dreams, onto pages
Long since read. Ah, how high and strong its walls,
Built of stones I dared not move, set magically
With a mortar I could not mix. Passageways
And tunnels with dumb mouths stared back,
Mysteries leaped, dangers crept, silent
As Sicilian Vespers. HamletÕs father would walk
Such walls. Quasimoto lurked quietly overhead.
Lafitte, Long John Silver, Grendel, shared the dark.
On my spine ice began to flow. I was knowing again
The lost land, the lost time, the lost dreaming.
He crept along the wall, motioned for me to follow,
Whispered a sound IÕm helpless to repeat and canÕt forget
As if a ghost of me were calling on a cold gray moor.
Back, still back, I went, spinning in a machine
Tumbling off my hard edges, knowing the deliciousness
Of fright, savoring one grand moment in a life
So old to magic. And he huddled, my son, my coming man,
For a moment, for a split second of forever, against
The high walls of his childhood. I dared not move
For fear IÕd break them down.
© Tom Sheehan
Bio: Sheehan has published 30 books and multiple works in Literally Stories, Rosebud, LinnetÕs Wings, Serving House Journal, Copperfield Review, Literary Orphans, Eastlit, Frontier Tales, In Other Words-Merida, Literary Yard, Rope & Wire Western Magazine, Green Silk Journal, etc. Has received 32 Pushcart nominations and 5 Best of Net nominations with one winner, and other awards. Newer books are Swan River Daisy, Jehrico, The Cowboys, and Vigilantes East, with 3 books being considered, and one accepted by Pocol Press last month, Beside the Broken Trail.