Stars in a thick sky

This is the light of stars in a thick sky,
Cold and wintry; the pond ice is light blue.
The snow unloads its white on the root feet of trees,
Branches flaked, stiff and lonely;
Inside a warren, rabbit faces gentle and warm.
The moon sees nothing of this— it is silver and silent;
Yet it drags the night like a dark tongue, lapping the shadows.

The snow is falling through the door of winter, soberly,
On quiet feet, inhabiting an earth place,
Separating into fields, into drifts, murmuring wisps of white,
Orphans lost like puritans touching the blackness,
Feeling for the cold pews of a Resurrection—
O-gape in complete despair in a warming.

White-knuckled dragging in a wind— familiar Spring
When the sky is different; each swung bell
From a church tolls a passage.
Eyes of the sun lift up, so bright its candles burning,
Sharpening a flame, like the white-cloth of a saint.
Burns away the chill of winter; burned in effigy— Old Man Winter.

Copyright © 07/15/18 lance sheridan®

Stars in a thick sky


The hanging

A scared mother, her fear hauled her through the air,
Sweat in mouthfuls, sweaty hands;
The starving child cry, she stares at pictures of food
In an old magazine, glut those people page after page.

And the back rent, and the past-due bills— used for
Light when the electric is cutoff, or paper cups to
Catch rusted water dripping from a pipe for parched mouths;
Their tongues suicidal at a taste.

A vulturous boredom snapped in and out like bullets through glass,
Passes from mother to child,
Melts in a skin, loiters in a vein.
And a hard knock, a miscarriage—

Two bald white civil servants pinned her to a doorjamb,
Cuffed— a pivot of heels and dragged knees,
Slack-jawed reason, hauled off for deportation;
Driven to cringe in darkness; in shadows, something worse.

Back in a country, a hanging,
Dead, blackened hands, dead mouth;
Mother Mary in a white smock, taking stock of her
Worn shoes, her sodden clothing,

Her empty apartment, her tragedies, taking stock of
A cheated life. The flag waving crowds
And their god move like a shadeless socket—
Unhinging another unwanted immigrant.

What chance. What chance. They are made to live in
Obsolete houses, flattened to our way of life;
They resemble a dead bird falling out of a tree—
Appearing to have suffered a terror.

Copyright © 07/14/18 lance sheridan®

The hanging

Eulogy for an old beast

An old roller-coaster ended in a rusted place.
Once, a monster framed in wood
Chained in an amusement park,
Weeds now prying into its metal track.

Quiet are the loud tongues and the peanut crowd.
Small children baked by the sun,
Tore them to a boot;
No longer runs the ooze of asphalt, the ichor of tar.

Sag-backed basketwork of timber and nails leaning over.
Once, foreboding— stroked a fear,
Cracked your bones from the clanking sound of teeth;
Seated in wooden coffins, snuffed out your eyes.

Hauled up to a black and white fear— dropped you into its mouth,
Its clawing hooks took you on a hellish ride;
Sweat plucked your fingers off the bar as you twisted and turned
In loops and corkscrews; outpaced you with its gorgon grimace.

Its armor-plate, its toppled skull, silent heartbeat daylong
Nightlong being swallowed by the earth.
Rattling wood, I heard its bolts unlatch; its demise fits
Me like a sad jacket, numb limbs and its last rites.

Copyright © 07/08/18 lance sheridan®

Eulogy for an old beast


He trimmed their hedges

And they watered his curiosity,

Nosy neighbor

With an ear trumpet,

Like an old Victrola needle listening

To a seventy-eight rpm record,

Scratching scratching for a sound.

Blemish on a character,

A sin, an outlandish scrutinizing

Of neighbor’s conversations.


Do not think they don’t notice—

Five o’clock in a morn, or twilight,

And lip reading when a window’s closed,

He beckons words with eyes cocked,

Chip on a shoulder when a shade’s down.

Then he’ll call with a church smile,

Flicking kindness over a bramble—

Just to make sure he’s considered a nice neighbor;

More a hypocrite dodging silence,

Boggling some sort of apology.


The yowl, the maddening,

His arms crossed like a two year old;

A figure spreading himself thin, like butter

Parading itself on moldy bread.

Stone face of a man murmuring utterances

Under his breath, white smoke

Circling over his head;

His wifey trying to cipher his mood

To his unutterable chagrin;

His cold stare freezing her skin, her bone

(Now she’s lost all feeling, how lugubrious).


Copyright © 06/30/18 lance sheridan®

An absence in the sea

It was a lonely place—

The wind gagged my mouth with each stroke of the oars,

Rasping my voice, and the waves

Blinding me with salt; the lives of others before me

Whaled in it, blowholes no longer breathing.


I tasted the malignity of the chase,

A black death,

The unction of lamps,

They had an efficiency, a dark glow,

And were a necessity— tortured whales.


There was only one sanctuary,

Ice flow, simmering depth,

The whale road narrowed into a cold.

And the flares almost betrayed them—

Bright light, closing on shadows,


Like holes in a night sky.

The absence of clicking, a vacancy;

The icy light was staggering,

The whale thicket quiet

Squatting in a white ocean.


I felt a still sea, a passing.

I felt callused hands, dull, blunt,

Rigging sails no more.

How the end awaited them,

Waited like widows walks.


And me too, had a relationship with the sea—

Taut line between pole and water,

Fish too scarce now, all in a silver can

Sliding in oil waiting for a pan fry,

Their absence killing me also.


Copyright © 06/24/18 lance sheridan®
An abscence in the sea


The night creeper

His footprints always meet, not here, but only

In your mind’s eye;

Night’s horizons a dream when you embark

Into the womb of the full moon.


In a dark suit, in an old trench coat,

He unleashes nightmares from his

Satchel, a full-tilt unholy night wrecked sleep,

Lulled into a darkened oblivion.


Tossed and turned around in doom-struck slumber,

Bone shank thoughts will blunder you into a wet drench;

Rave on in a quicksand nemesis lullaby

While the clock hands tick in shaded ambivalence.


The moon leans down hard like a brazen harlequin

Mocking you, flicking light on and off,

Black and white, much as a ranting jackanape

Fluting a stiff march into a deaf.


The paradox is that the nightmare’s the thing,

Though this primadonna won’t leave a trace, knows

How to lacerate a sleep wound,

Withers dreams into a hell surrender.


Then the awakening, pay the piper

With tears; rationed through a kaleidoscope

Of shapes and absolutes;

Congealed into a knowing, a polemic scattering


Into the narrow crack of sleeplessness;

Cradled deep in a suspense, defenseless as a

Sitting duck, knocked down by a blind shot;

All your senses carol for a respite.


Copyright © 06/17/18 lance sheridan®

The night creeper



You will not do anymore, worn shoes
In which I have lived in like holey socks,
Dirty and poor for twenty years,
Barely the strength to breathe or eat,
A ghastly statue of skin and bones.

My friends all died before their time,
Carrying to a grave a bagful of religion,
Ragged clothes scraped from white bodies,
Tossed into a fire — pacing up and down in an alley;
I use to pray for you until my eyes went blind.

Trying to pick worms off of me,
I have always been scared of insects,
Like a death boot in the face as they burrow in;
Through the uncut grass of a cemetery I stumble,
In search of the holy ghost, looking to repent.

Crossing and recrossing, my aging fingers
Trespassing on sacred ground;
An unmarked headstone — I was still warm
When society shoved me in an earth crypt;
I no longer trespass stupidly among the black hearts.

Copyright © 06/08/18 lance sheridan®