Novice to a passing

Mattressed in a sleep, an old man sorrows in a dream.
In a corner, a crooked chair, a knotted table
Covered with papers all brambled in ink; bearing some
Correspondence with a departed one,
Tears on the grain of floorboards, cocked askew by aging nails.

A new morning, wind gagging on the mouth of a dawn,
Unfeeling in it, he awakens to curtains panning a window for light;
Arises, stepping carefully through his emotions,
He’s tasted the malignity of death,
Its black spikes embedded in his heart, his mind-

They had an efficiency like the lives of the dead,
Sallowed faces simmering in the cauldrons of the living.
He now of paperweight and featureless,
Linen peeling off a clothesline;
Soon, soon the grave hole will be filled with his skin.

And his smiling woman, whose brain filaments burned out,
And their sons with neat mustaches shoving her into a dirt hole;
He prays to be with you,
He hears your red heart beating, awaiting.
Dying is easy, she says, I did it exceptionally well.

Needles grain his skin in the still, morning air,
White sheets and a distant loudspeaker,
He sips the hospital air; a medicinal hogshead to swig;
Dying. A statue with scars and remembrances,
Last tear narrowing down his face. She always knew.

Copyright © 03/17/18 lance sheridan®

Novice to a passing


Ship in a winter’s ice…

In this ice wharf there are no chocks bits or bollards,
Only the hemp holes dull in a gray circle;
Frozen barges list and blister oaken timber,
Shackled to the cold.
The arctic sea moves in a rink of whitefishes.

We can taste the winter sky, like metal stiffening,
Drinking from the flask of uncertainty,
Our nerves collapse into a rickety edifice of hope.
A day, a morn, a moon ferrying in shadows of despair,
Ten months a beggar, bearded with frost.

Our ship, now mouthing cakes of ice,
Its decks, hungering for a warmth;
With every breath of wind, wrought on a frozen anvil
Hammered into a sea crevice; pilings of wood to a collapse.
Harsh, harsh the bleak crag, salvaged to a bottom.

Prospect of survival encased in an icy membrane,
Each patched their soul to a meager meal and shelter.
In a row, ten fingers frostbitten,
Ragged to a hardship. Each stroke in a sea cut into a whitecap;
Landfall mollified a gravestone. Stiffened a rescue into place.

Copyright © 03/13/18 lance sheridan®

Touched Up no sharpening

Rear view

The smile of traffic signals annihilates me.
City lights. What does it mean?
Tongues of streets licking my wheels,
Their constant whipsawing makes me retch;
Color drains from the spot, dull whitewalls.

The sun flickers on and off as sheets of
Smog grow heavy,
My headlights like carbon paper crumpled
In a view; the rest of me crawls
Through the haze, beaten painted skin.

The sin, the sin. My engine wheezes and cries;
A snuffed life. I’m in a fright.
Weak in a crib of rust, eating in, I am no longer pure;
My body no longer infinitely chromed,
I think I am going to the yard.

In a scrapheap province, in a pit of bodies,
Where a wrecking ball flies so blindly,
Unlucky the classic born; time has beaten the
Mileage of me, the doom mark.
Dull, dull the indelible smell of rust fisted in a metal.

Copyright © 03/08/18 lance sheridan®

Rear view


In a public place they are plying the dry wood,
A thicket of hate under a pot lid
A woman in a trial crawling like a worm
In a dirt cage;
A judge and jury — small white puritans with red tongues.

Hysteria begins here, mouth of a door,
Gavel for a witch;
Rope for a hanging.
Mother of beetles, ten fingers stitching wolf’s teeth
For the devil’s fetus;
They pelt her with stones on the way to the after-hell,
Her swaddled body is thrown in a burying ground.

Dead witches eyes sweet,
They’re lost
They’re lost.
Mouth’s sewn shut to teach the truth;
This is a town worn with a hat of the righteous,
Yet, the witches’ holes are
Crying their location.

Bones in a bowl of shadows;
Crawling for repentance; jostled by the good book,
They can do no further harm;
This is a town where witches are mended,
Importunate women;
They drink from the darkness like candles;
Executed for falling out of the divine light.

Copyright © 03/02/18 lance sheridan®


The day-moon desert

Out here a pulse of heat blots the voices,
Blots the lightest sounds; the sun acts peculiarly,
The moon is dry, glides overhead thirsty
As a cattle skull — no gesture from a well.
In this desert, air trolls for water; lizard tongues
Could not possibly accommodate a drop;
One wearies in this heat-cracked nomad spot.

Objects beside imaginary roads driving north
In a sandstorm, brash spirits chummy to a blow;
And the cricket frogs with their blinded eyes
Shadow in the rocks; away the herbage of sand,
Like pilgrims away from the labeled land,
Horizons too far, a sort of vengeance;
Each day, each night — soughs the old vermilions.

Their crimson colors in ticking hours redress
Their dominance; assert themselves in
Gigantic steps, yet mean so little to a desert —
Numb as petrified wood; in a day, in a month
They may have well never happened.
Out here in the grain and stone, it’s dry,
Bones of water; swelter and cold, abandoned thirst.

Copyright © 02/28/18 lance sheridan®

The day-moon desert

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®

Memoirs of a blueberry picker

Leftover people

This is life’s end: their bodies twisted and starved,
Cramped on a dry mouth. Black
Eyed shadows of clouds exploding rain,
Whitened faces of the drowning;
Bodies gloomy in a dump of mud,
An unforgiving country slapped your foot-soles
And your cries, all night you crawled
And swallowed the dust; now you breathe canvas
In a sea of tents, your call for help rolled
Into the doom noise of the dying.

Dirt cliffs are edged with bloated children, fingers
Embroidered in starvation; death walks among
Them, dangles the bone shells,
He knows their time, but no refugees know;
The earth turns now, a minute, an hour,
Souls turning in the soil, soon they’ll be free.
The worms walk among them,
Stuffing their mouths with dirt, the world says a prayer
But sheds no tears; the tent city soon a barren land,
Tattered canvas blowing in a dull wind.

Copyright © 02/20/18 lance sheridan®

Leftover people