The dream digger

A window traces the night where a sleeper lies.
The air is winnowed by a stranger, he has come
To a barren field by the sea, scathed by winter,
Stained by the tedious pilgrimage of snow.

Barefoot, he stands, in a narrow crack of light
Sloped seaward to a cliff plunge, fed upon by whitecaps;
Odors of frozen earth arise, burnished by ice-
The dead snails leave a silver track.

High against the moon shadows, gull wings bend muted
Over tidal-flats where the ghost of a child played
Silent and cold, old memories bedded in mud;
Her youthful days ended, rusting like a scythe.

Shovel squatting grim as a sea witch at coffin’s border
In wait amid snarled wind and crack of wave
To trap the wayward stiff at a move of temper and disdain,
Now with flint eyes he digs deeper, fixed upon a dream.

Plucked from a deep sleep, curtained with graying lace,
A milky mist of bone and skin into a worm bottle-
Forbidden thoughts like weedy mussels pocked white,
Frigidly stiff on a windowsill, garbage of dust.

Copyright © 02/15/2019 lance sheridan®

The dream diggers

A fish story

I am a sturgeon and exact. I have no preconceptions.
Whatever I see I swallow immediately
Smaller fish, fishhook, just as it is by taste or dislike.
I am slippery and wet- I am only being truthful;
Black-eyed, four seas cornered, I generally meditate.
My scales are slate grey, no wait, olive brown,
And did I tell you, they flicker in light and reflect it carefully;
I like to hide in shadows of waves when trawlers appear,
Searching my reaches for caviar- pickled roe on a silver plate;
I much rather be swimming in a lake with an alligator gar,
With bits of my caudal fin snug in its mouth- wait, what a terrible fish;
Its long snout with razor sharp teeth, I would rather be drowned!


A fish story

Lament- to be shared…

Alan Britt, a professor at Towson University/The John Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, will be sharing my poem, “Lament,” a villanelle, with his English/Creative Writing Class.


The taste of liquor took away my father;
black bottle’s shroud shadowed his soul,
laid him to an early rest in a hoarded squalor.

Bag full of religion could not save him,
a thinning sight scraped flat from alcohol,
barely daring to breathe, rather grim.

Swallowed the booze, could not talk to,
he rode the feeling like a destitute
and scorned the tick of the poisonous brew.

A scowled age struck down my mother,
trolled her grave in golden slumber,
for thirty years she prayed to be with my father.

He counted the time with god to a bother,
shrugged off the tongue lashings by fallen angels,
and scorned the sacramental wine from holy fathers.

O ransack the graves, anonymous alcoholics,
find another man who mangled his life,
you vampires are dirt searching for a holy bottle,
the dead are scared of you, apostolic.

A villanelle

The tale of the wizard’s wheel and the white dog snow

Now, come dear children, let us away for the pleasure,
Deep the night of time then, i’ll light the long-stick candle,
Bright the cavern of sleep over the black stair sky.
Rungs of sleep and dreams, the verticals of midnight
i am the tale weaver, i read from the barkcloth paper.

Once upon lived a wrinkled man in the descending forest,
The white dog snow, the shuffling of years, and the old smiles,
Not far from the dare of hills, dart of rivers, the deep pools.
Above, the grey flocked clouds, below, winter in the bread fields
Looming weather spun from the wizard’s wheel, dark and cold.

In his cottage, the ladle dipped in the water-wattle, mazy cauldron,
Spell spoken, nagging the whisper of the acre wood and shadow fold,
“Feadóg an lon dubh , caoin an giorria , dorcha spéir agus scamall”
(Whistle of the blackbird, cry of the hare, dark sky and cloud).
Drizzled dim on the wheel by the wrinkled hand, the taste of wind blows
What of an old sorcerer among the mushroom moss and rabbit warren?

Came one day the wrinkled woman, walked the cold stone path,
Past the statues of summer and sky tall trees, by the frozen shade,
Once close up, smiling, off came the shroud of his graven furies.
And all his woken eyes gentle, and the wind strung clear and crisp
They lived happily ever in the wood by the hills and river mouth.

Copyright © 08/27/2016 lance sheridan®


Memoirs of a blueberry picker

They called the place the lookout sea,
Fountains of waves
A salt mist in blue sky aloft,
Clouds passing through Saturday mornings
Honey air, we walked a sandy path
With tin pails in hand;
Well water kept us cool as we picked
Bushel after bushel of plump blueberries.

Blue lips and fingers, a spider’s web,
A bee’s wing,
Dragonflies nipping and tucking, arising,
Noon sun casting our shadows;
Kindled my love for a season.
Gulls dragging their beaks in a tidal pool with water that
Had a brackish taste, the tang of a river sea;
Sandpipers scurrying through fen and thickets.

And so, together, with my sisters and brothers,
We gathered till the dusk came rising;
Pies and jams quenching our taste for a fruit.
We walked, and I still walk there,
Though the blueberry plants are barren save for
Fond memories; I oft hear joyful voices,
Hear tin pails clanging
Culling a harvest; our childhoods nourished.

Copyright © 02/23/18 lance sheridan®


Reed in a frozen pond

Snow comes sifting down, layer after layer
To the bower of this reedy pond.
Overhead, the umbrella of winter
A chastely figure, augured in white lines,
Covers the clapboard grasses.

The wind stiffens into place over ice,
How its voice howls, how it blots up
The bones of water, shadows of fish;
Its black bunched fingers tug at me-
For a warmth, I seek the frog-mouth liquor.

I become a blunt, clumsy stumbler,
So slow against all that numbing;
I sink into a caul of forgetfulness,
Drowsy in a cold womb,
Slow effacement at the snow’s hand.

Winter’s mid-wife slaps my footsoles,
My nakedness is mirrored on frozen pond,
I wake to listen: Spring whispers in my ear-
I am a new statue in thawing air; the window
Square of warmth brightens, swallows the cold.