The sea path

The day winter came I went to the sea,
Past the wooden fence — slat by slat
Where the dune grass grew, tangled up
In black wire, withering, cramping for
A breath, just like the day I woke, I woke
On a dream; crowded sleep, six feet of
Covers dripping cold. Image by image

Worming their way into my head — my
Skull riddled with the past usurping
My rest, relics grinding grist down my thoughts.
And a ticking clock reaching with hands
To haul me into a morning; and the sun loomed
Behind a storm, behind a rain,
The sea battening down for a pour.

I moved humbly down a path, compelled by the
Sea and by charred driftwood cheated from
A limb; tidal pools littered the beach — fauceting
From a tide. I remember the day waves
Drank my sails and washed me to a shore, the
Bed of sand wore the stain of my tragedy;
I lay dreaming in the poorhouse of innocence.

The sea is not a charity ward askew by a wooden
Fence — yet its long used by refugees hunched
In a storm, betrayed by the mere chance of a
Sail; lays the voyage waste with blackened sky,
Ransacks timber with curded waves; white gulls
Vacant, no sign of a shore. Water drenched,
We seek a pact and walk the plank with strangers.

Copyright © 11/19/17 lance sheridan®

NP sea path


Pond in a field

In a field, by a pine, in a Spring air
A farmer dug a hole in the black earth;
And the rains in the loom appeared,
Filled the hollow, filled its thirst, extinct
Went the barren trench quick as a weather.

And the young ages surely swam while an
Orange sun was sacrosanct to a summer,
And the corn and the wheat kept their shapes
Intact till a crop in a fall; and the skipping
Stones disturbed a calm water and a wind

Throughout the warmth. And the winter came,
Leaning its cold on the plowed fields and
The crowskin flight, the stuffed scarecrow with
Lifeless eyes till a seed and a stalk; sunlight
Worn as coats by clouds and shadows.

And a skate and a meeting of blade and ice
At the freezing hour, frost on a pond; short days
Lobed into a season. Quick as it ends,
Leaves quietly over the dry still grass. On a
Warm light’s tint, new whispers in a wet hole.

Copyright © 11/14/17 lance sheridan®


I lay in a silent sea

Blue and white waves to the spot, dull crimson sky.
The rest of my body has washed out to sea,
Smoothed timbers sleep — stretched along the sandy floor.

And I have known the sea, the porcelain calm, the pivot of storms.
The wind rubbing its back on my sails — the combing of
Salt across my decks, lingering fog crawling down the sky wall.

I grow old, I grow old — waves lapping obsessively.
And was it all worth while, to have seen the sunsets, the
Dooryards of dawn, the chambers of night?

My heart shuts, rusted nails and rotted wood measured into
The brine — ghosts of voices drowning, down, down
To the bottom; my last breath flickers in fathoms black.


Copyright © 11/10/17 lance sheridan®

A fobbly day

Outside in the city street I hear
Car horns blare — much like incoherent
Scraps of verse, heels tapping
Tapping, drum-rolled on a sidewalk,
Muttering retreats into sawdust bars; clash
Of knives and forks, dwellers eating,
Laughter, screams in a new day meeting;
With cat’s claws, a fog walking on
My window sill. A doorbell buzzing, pausing
Wearing thin upon my irregular pulse, a
Voice calling out of breath, panting, panting,
Nervous knocking and then a silence.

Shall I rush out, dressed as I am — enter the
City in my robe and jams? While the air
Rough as splintered wood, a drop of rain then
Pools of wet, squeaking umbrellas up
Against a broken, clouded sky. Rasps the jarring
Blackened tents, drools the puddles into
Sidewalk gutters, smacks its hand on every roof,
Casts its remnants down thirsty drains and
Into the dull canals beneath the asphalt pavement,
Departs the city reluctantly with empty bottles and
Sandwich papers, like loitering heirs of corrupt officials;
The sun now a spinster with faded eyes.

A cold rain dragging its belly across the dullness of the
Day — I, standing beneath my lofty, dry garret,
Wet all the way down to my tired bones, rattled at the
Downpour leering at me, cast off my dignity and
Plunge into the swarming waters, holding onto a branch,
Looking, looking for any parcel of land; I am a tenant
Of the flood. Will it never cease?

Copyright © 11/09/17 lance sheridan®


A ripened sea

A November squall, given heavy rain, darkened sun,
Waves clacked on the rock plates, whitecaps
Rooted on the tall tops; wind’s noise making a rasping
Sound — rip current spading the gravelly sea
Bottom, digging digging; gulls nestled on the lug, the
Shafted thermals. I, in my skiff, buried in the milk
White mist, tacking sloppily in the surf, the heavy salt.

More than any landlubber, I was nicking and slicing
Neatly in the cold smell of brine — yet the
Squelch and slap of the squall cut me to an edge;
Between my palm and fingers, the oars rested,
I’ll dig with them till my straining rump is among the coved
Walls. My head held high in the starlight, as I
Tasted a piece of bread and philandered in a few sips

Of drinking water. And there I was, toasting the night,
Packed deep in sleeplessness and cold, being
Driven to the coast and stern-lipped rocky crags;
Yet I rowed with the thorn pricks of the wind on my back,
I felt my spirits disgorged. And then a clear light leaning
In from the sea — like poetry of freedom; I ate
The bright day from the crockery of the dawn.

Round the coast with strokes fermenting in the sea,
And then the cove — I felt like crying, the air was
Thickened with the sun and sounds of my village
Waking; over the hill, my cottage warm with
Family and a fire. I lept from my skiff in a haste, in
A thrill, my tattered clothing hard as a knot; I had beaten
The sea itself; no longer reposed in the heaving deep.

Copyright © 11/05/17 lance sheridan®


A house of sticks

This is a stick house, a lifetime old,
I built it myself,
Room by room with quiet corners,
Roof chewing on ominous grey clouds,
Oozing the drought,
Whistling wind, wiggling the earth dirt,
Tossing up the worm to fish in a clay bed.

It has a window and a door,
A dirt cellar in the ground swell,
No prayer book, I wanted to see by my own light,
Withering in the dark throat of the night,
I do not know much about god,
Nor stone churches — they’re all to blame,
The wind cries in the graveyard.

These bare pickings — doley handed,
I eat my share of the marrowy scraps,
Like a bug’s mouth eating a wilted plant,
And drinks the dust from an empty well bucket,
From a stony hole in the mole tunnels,
Cold and dark dark dark in the underworld,
I met one once, loitering and tired.

Rusty nail smells in the rotting, darkened chambers,
My nostrils are aging in a boneless breathing,
Down-turned face in the shadow of a mirror,
My voice half-heard in the bowel of stillness,
More and more my words are my epitaph,
Yet illegible on a headstone in a dirt filled plot,
Soon I’ll seek solace with the dearly departed.

Copyright © 11/02/17 lance sheridan®


Sleepless in a dry month

His boots do him no good in a dry house,
Not in a bonewhite light, not in a carbon paper
Night — his eyes look through the peepholes
Of sleep, under the mizzling sky, under
The moon’s grimace face. He suffers the toss
And the turn in a desert pillow, parched
Dreams trying to stretch in all directions;

Irritating sandman appearing over and over
In a cracked looking glass — perchance not to sleep
Though, perchance not to dream of adolescence
And parental faces in bubblegum wrappers,
Always stern, never cheerful, memories jostled
About like bugs in a windy garden, poked
By the stick of a storm, ominous and black.

He is immune to dosing pills, sugary substances
That influence his drinking water — used for
Baptisms and watering dried daisies, each gesture
Fleeing down the empty alley of insomnia;
He is worn out by the tedium of listless evenings
And dull reading of old seed catalogs, their blackened
Pages much like the never ending twilight.

The inside of his head is filled with gray matter,
Brainwashed and fatigued, damaged integral
Parts like a pocket-watch in need of repair —
And the slots of his eyes growing weary like a
Granite yard of gravestones; tired bones creeping
Into a bed, lying there without privacy of a
Sleep, and elsewhere houses are darkened.

Nightlong, invisible daylight peeking — draining its
Sun into a landscape, into a room; waking
Half asleep, wide-open eyes stiffened into a morn;
He lives tired in an incessant sluggishness, body
Always aching, no life for awhile, he is an old man
In a dry month, looking for rest in a sleeping snatch,
To be a tenant in a rented dream, the shuddering night.

Copyright © 10/27/17 lance sheridan®