Waterman’s lament

I shall never rid you entirely of your insides,
Filled with oysters and crabs crawling over
The weedy acres of your belly — I drop
My nets into the mule sea, into the bray and
Mouthpiece to dredge the silt from your throat.
Forty years now I have labored, I am none the wiser.

Morning mist scaling an overcast sky —
Looms around me. O father, I pray to thee
To mend my life, my brittle bones, my
Calloused hands. White hair littered with brine.

My boat grunting to the horizon-line,
Stroking like an old swimmer winded —
Its hours are married to shadows of waves,
Dawn till dusk in a mourning.

No longer do I count the red stars, nor
Bask in the cornucopia of the day —
But rather I listen for the stroke of the end,
Scraping along the blank stones in the shallows.

Copyright © 08/31/17 lance sheridan®



A conversation with roses

You bloomed in earth’s dirt into the lightless dawn
Where blind bees fly like stones, poise in shadows
And pause for breath — that morning, small as a doll,
Flat sky purpled, I found your name. I found you in a
Churchyard, your petals dripped red, a bloody dye.

I had nothing to do with your guilt by this poorhouse
Where the dead die, where their bones are plaited into
Graves — crowded foot to foot, pushing up flowers,
Breaking the soil, breaking the backs of worms.

In this charity ward, my sister withers beneath your roots,
In her artificial life, she does not stir. And shall I follow,
Borrowing the silt of her tragedy. I remember a whiteness
Stilling her birth cry — mothered in and God-fathered out.

In plastic baskets with plastic flowers my mother lays them at our
Headstones — they do not rot. And the stoned-faced priest
Says, O pardon the one who knocks at her sister’s grave,
She found her remains. I lie in six feet of darkness, insects
Knocking on the pine-box. My last breath silent in my throat.

Copyright © 08/28/17 lance sheridan®


The sea meeting

What are these stones at the shore to meet me? They are the cobbles —
Clast of rock, the high-water mark, gravel for a drowning pool.
In a aging veil that molds to my face, they are leading me to the sea;
Graying finger-joints flinch slowly in the blackened waves; why am I cold?

I am nude in my reasoning — the gulls are nodding, their tinfoil eyes winking;
Wading into the milkweed seaweed with tendrils grasping,
I cannot run, I am rooted in its spiky armor;
Breastplates of waves knot under my arms.

This barren body, untied from its disguise, exhausted from someone I knew;
The long white box is adrift in a sea of flowers,
A rector its agent with buttoned-down cuffs, a hymn, a prayer —
Is it the orchids that smell so sick?

Dream of a duel that will inevitably win — yet in my cells the new virgins,
Magicians in a blackout of bones. My smile and voice
Are changing, no longer a curtain of wax dividing them from a personage;
Life no longer running to the end of everything.

Copyright © 07/29/17 lance sheridan®


Into the sun-dried air

A seedling sits blade-shaped in its dark clay,
Winter face gone green with the spring season,
Tender skin pushing into a sun blazing blind
At its thirst trade; with ticking-time seconds
The dried-air hangs parched in its hands; a dawn
Fusing drought with the cracked soil.

I see a stalwart flower
Coupled by petals quickened into
A thriving day. At that,
Whirls towards a rough storm, crooked clouds
Aloof, squatting demon-wise
Walks forth the rain like a beggar.

A flash like blind crack night’s black
God’s work stood anchored chained, grinning fierce
Shriveling to cinders in a gutted earth —
Fixed in the cracks, echoes in the clay
Some havoc on tender roots, and yet
Strengthens the Iris’ prospect to strike a flower.

What the sun saw engraved in a shadow —
A thriving, tender plant
Fresh buds fit fiber for a dry air
Staunch in an earth house rent, wedded to its roots
Whatever trials to come, steadfast to a cause
Earth’s ever flourishing growth.

Copyright © 07/17/17 lance sheridan®

Plant seedling growing through dry cracked earth

In a slogging rain

Wet drops out of the cotton-bag, rain falls
into the thirsty cobbled cracks,
Unearths the earthworm, seemed drowning
enough, twisted like a corkscrew
Second carcass lies by the elm root, moles look
neutral as they place the headstones.

Blackened sky’s dome a sinister place, moles
with their white hands uplifted in
Safe haven by an aging church — scarred by
an old war,
Below, stiffened in a family pose, the veterans sleep,
down there one is alone.

Outsize calloused hands open another vein,
delving for the appendages
Of centipedes and beetles — turn the earth over
and over,
And still the slogging rain falls, yet vanishes quickly
into the breach
The final surfeit of the cloud doors are just as far.

The shovel moves through the mute rooms of
clay and soil,
Pushing the roots aside like the mole grubbers
after the sweetbread
What happens, happens in darkness, then
Easy and often as a last breath.

Copyright © 06/28/17 lance sheridan®


The burnt out sea

An old sea of dried mud and rusted sand.

How long the carcass fish, the blackened
The small crab eats what ate it once
The rubbished beach, the missing stone,
a sag-backed dune.

Their char of breathing still into the
broken throat
Iron entrails from a toppled ship
Seated beneath, the smelted stream-
Nourishes not in its lump of bones.

Copyright © 04/29/17 lance sheridan®