Are you there, Thomas,
hearing the maple burst pods,
sunflower creak and groan up,
down-loam leap of crocus strings
silent as webbing in the corner
of the barn, tulip death
at wayward Chlorodaine
I watch you
in the mirror of stars,
renegade heart, April's savage,
killing the long winter siege,
scabbard clean of weapon
you clutch. You muster
sky-lifted, the amens
for buried blossoms, the sable
early flowers cede
Do not dwell
on winter sludge,
April's vast recall,
memory of bulb and seed
working hard as sandhog.
They get hot every equinox,
volcanic up, forest
fire down, August
Do you walk
where your father waits
socked down beneath the stone
all savings bought, deftly scribed,
"James 1903-1978," so off-hand
you wonder where reality
above him down,
has root of snake and worm,
grass root boa does its dig,
grapple gains your father's mind.
Wait, James, your mother loved
you no more
take their time,
Who goes where, how?
Spring from the grave, James!
Spring! Spring! Oh, James, come up;
one sound from your broken eyes,
a hand at dusk, just one,
just send the bloom
toss and turf of tempest grass,
leap of leg you lost, grief-bent
in another vault. Are you wholly joined?
You in forsythia come-back, foxtail
lunge, lost son's lilac rocketing,
smash of lightning maple wears,
love-lies-bleeding is stranger,
lo, clethra and groundsel
carve your eyes.
under; happy at this
infernal machine scored years
ago you gave me, I dream your rivers:
King Amazon whose ticks scarred
the leg surgeon's saw
Father of Waters down
to New Orleans town, the fist
of Harry Greb a log-slam to your jaw,
teeth a-chatter like old pickets
seized loose by rust of nail
and wild March air
stole hook and leader
from your cigarette hand.
Down East does gray house wear them,
is the shadow of the hook
buried in this page?
kicking the Atlantic
three miles down, square
of mackerel, stripers' pavement,
plaza where flounder bite the sky;
and six miles out, sixty yards astern,
we tasted salt together in the turgid wake
when I chased my Red Sox cap
and you chased me in much
too quick sobriety.
every which way hours:
Crow a little bit when in luck.
Pay up, shut up, own up when you lose.
Running begins in the heart, not the knee,
Not the density of thigh, slight puff of calf.
(Turning thirteen, rushing downstairs
for annual gift, your handing me
the hammer: From now on
you drive the nails
in the 1:00 A.M. yard,
moon with cloud robe, peer
of cat eyes, my catching four clenched
hands of thugs. God knows how you made the back
door, concrete onyx for retinas, white cane
in rapier thrust and swish: Work him, Tom!
Work him! Work him! Gut of the Corps
coming like an erection.
You never knew there
were two of them.
You cried in
came hard as spring Allagash,
broke the backs of buses, plows,
tore hearts of tractors out, spilled black
black blood, held the crocus six weeks back.
Icicle at your heart, snow writhing as spiders
at hip line, brood-bent, you swam six miles
home past knotted crankcases, fell in
the back door. I knifed the mackinaw
off, the iron laces of your boots.
Kissed you cold on kitchen
floor, rubbed my emery
hands on threatened
In one giant leap,
went seventeen to seventy,
found response, am still there.
Walked home from war, heartbreak,
the hill above that holds your voice,
Riverside where the stone deftly scribed
is hardly your last sign, where we
will touch again
© Tom Sheehan
Bio note: Tom SheehanŐs Brief Cases, Short Spans, a short story collection, was published November 2008 by Press 53, and From the Quickening, another collection, was published by Pocol Press February 2009. Epic Cures, short stories from Press 53 earned a 2006 IPPY Award. A Collection of Friends, memoirs, Pocol Press 2005, was nominated for the Albrend Memoir Award. He has nominations for ten Pushcart Prizes, three Million Writers nominations, and Noted Story nominations for 2007 and 2008, received the Georges Simenon Award for Fiction from New Works Review, a Silver Rose Award for Excellence in fiction from ART, and is included in the Dzanc Best of the Web Anthology, 2009 and has been nominated for Best of the Web 2010.
He also appears in the new anthologies from Press 53, Home of the Brave: Stories in Uniform (sharing space with Jim Salter, Tobias Wolfe, Tim OŐBrien, Kurt Vonnegut and others) and in Milspeak: Warriors, Veterans, Family and Friends Writing the Military Experience.
He served in Korea, 1951-52, and has published 13 books. He has hundreds of Internet appearances, and has appeared in nine consecutive print issues of Ocean Magazine, and in many other print magazines. He and a committee of friends have co-edited and issued two books on their hometown of Saugus, MA, sold 3500 to date of 4500 printed ( 400 pages each, color sections, text, timelines, nostalgia and history, at $42.00 each, all for scholarships). He can hardly wait to see them on a new planning session. TheyŐll each have one martini, heŐll have three beers, and the waitress will shine on them.