The river level

Cold water, a dull wet,
Seizes the bottom of a valley,
A rise in a landscape—
Hogback farm, beads of sand on a dirt road,
Quieting a cricket cry.

River flow stiff, hunches in a storm,
Ruinous, ignorant,
Pours into hollows, crawls down a tree wall,
The roots are drowned.
Trekking stubborn in a weather design.

Black, black the flow,
Black mud with a knobby spine,
Crowbars the stones, the marble lilies;
Twisted sheets of dark like a
Wakened apparition— ghosted into dreams,

The dead, the living fringed in a mundane vision.
Once an Eden, now pinned-legged
To a mudded scape, between the
Waist bone river flow and the dry witness.
Any touch, taste, a pranging to an end.

All the long gone hopes, they get back soon though.
Be it by moving humbly through the
Clay upholstery of earth, or the black mold
Choked closet into the light, the survivors are compelled
By a last tear, the river current smooth for a while.

Its steel body flowing, relic of a flood,
A sanctuary usurping space like a shrew.
This black water has no mercy for anyone,
Why should it, it is the hearse for pollution;
A long coffin filled with hog-colored waste.

It is not a smile. Its clean water has vanished.
Stumps of fish swim in it, in indifference;
Their tongues desperate for a hook.
Are we blind to its expressionless flow?
This is the silence of a dead soul.

Copyright © 10/14/18 lance sheridan®

The river level


My body, woodenly askew

I will never get you put together entirely,
Water oak. Not pieced, nor properly jointed;
Leaved, hunched over, with twisted branches
Proceeding from your great trunk.
You are worse than Dutch elm disease.

Perhaps you consider yourself stately,
Nesting for the mysterious marbled murrelet,
Or some other feathered friend.
Forty years now I have labored
To dredge the sap from your roots,

I am none the wiser. Scaling little crags with
Pots of salt and pails of waves;
I crawl like a slug in mourning
Over the seaweed acres of my brow
To mend the bark plates and clear the aging
White pupils of your eyes.

A gray sky out of the Tuath De’
Arches above us. O goddess, all by yourself
You are as beautiful and ancient as Irish mythology.
I open my waves in a depth of black water.
Your fluted arms and golden hair are littered

In their old deities to the moons horizon line.
It would take more than thunder and lightning
To create such a travesty on a dying water oak.
Twilight, I squat in the basket
Of your ear, out of the sea wind,

Counting the silhouettes of stars and moonlight;
The sun will rise under the lip of your mouth,
Twined to a water oak’s aging limbs like ivy;
Cries the oak, its hours are shadowed to an end
On the wet stones of my landing.

My body, woodenly askew

Black eyes, white bandage

I am bone china white, wearing a death-mask gauze,
I am bones spindled in dark air;
Weeping stiffened in an abuse.
Pigs blunt in a beating,
My heart won’t start;
They smiled and smiled me to a numb.
My tongue is quiet as a stone,
My nerves are a glassful of dead worms.

Limbs, images, cries; trembling hands stupidly
Staring for help. I am not a smile.
The gray sky lowers, I burn a pitiful candle flame
Flickering in thin air;
Light enfolding my face like burial linen
In a still place, poured into a six foot hole,
My soul is a bride to an end;
Black hats in a graveyard, closed mouths

Red and awkward. Pallors of hands throwing
Dirt in my face; I am in a long coffin of tar colored oak;
And the priest with a wormy smile,
Gray suited and still.
For a minute the sky pours into my grave,
I swallow it like a lozenge of hope.
But there is no hope, only the crude earth
Breathing like an old dreg, taking me for its wife.

Copyright © 10/06/18 lance sheridan®

Black eyes, white bandage

Chitwick in the Forest Down

On oldid parchment with blackink he writes
whilst he walks in Chitwick
in the forest down

He stands quite still with thought,

presses a flower fair between pages,
was once woven into
the life with
wooden tree,
into the life of earth

Strides the path made by leprechauns
and herded goat

Along the dirt walk grows green foliage
curtained with sun,

from whose forest roof it enters,
gently pushing aside
branch and leaf,
much like wind riding on
apprenticed clouds

He a poet is, pens about ‘her beauty
and how much he
loves her’

Feels her smile move across
his face,
the wildflowers

Her world smells of ladyslippers
and forget-me-nots, watered
by summer rain from
distant lands

After, she crosses the gôd cyningwith
fingers tight on
mythical beast,

in the heavens, in the sky, it
gallops with thunderous

She whispers to the white
mythical beast, travels over
the whale-road to see

the sea,

all things mysterious and unsurveyed like hidden,
wooded dwells,

to Chitwick in the forest down
to be with him,
lived the happily ever after,
once upon.

Copyright © 01/10/2014 lance sheridan®


If there were only the falling snow

The frost intent, the autumn broken
Winter crosses the wooded land, crisp and silent
Ice on a stream like a listless beggar,
Loitering, plunging hands;
Snow drags its belly through the dying thicket.

The timber dry
The white flakes drift
In the shifting wind.
Red rock
The snowy wash
The cliff like a pinion flight.

And the distant thunder shouting and crying
And the rain in agony in warmer places
And spring with a little patience
And places dry with the mud-cracked earth.

If there were only snow
And no rain,
If there were only the falling snow
Over the wooded land
Stumbling over fallen timber,
Fiddling the air with exhausted fingers
On a winter evening.

The swell of flakes, dry and brittle
White sullen faces about the chapel of trees
And over the tumbled warrens;
Dark clouds crouched, then spoke the thunder
Seals of rain broken,
The daring of snow’s surrender-
By this and only this, the snow existed.

Copyright © 09/04/2016 lance sheridan®

Reine Marie Pinchon

Out of the sun dried mud

A river once fluid, now punching out the mud,
A sluggy pulse; a knotweed bloated,
Bedded on that gray mud compost heap,
Pig cloud slowly, grunting a storm—
Flickering lightning to a shape.
Sloppy with rain, douses the bowel-pulse
Of a river head that pumps to a sea;

In a mile, in a heat, mud stubborn, sunk in
A clog, mire-smirched in a hoghood muddle;
Bog bottom suckling with a mouth slot—
Dolt ripe for a digesting,
These, these obstacles.
Yet, the water spawn is fertile, pours into
A muck funnel leashed to a salt wave,

Leaps inexorably, flies to a brine,
Thickens in a sea basin, cleaves to a shore;
Far from the dried mud stench—
Taut fiber from the onslaught of the sun,
Now free from the common clay;
It is the sea you hear in it.
Listen, it flows impetuously till the mud is stone.

Copyright © 09/29/18 lance sheridan®

Out of the mud