To chase the first night jitters I drank apple wine

And stacked my fingers one on the other

Like lobster claws and waved

Them over my head menacingly,

I stomped my feet

And made the rat turds dance.

 

An icy draft circled the room

Like a terrified bird.

The cupboards were bare, of course,

And so were the walls,

Except for the dime-store Jesus

On the Cross someone gave a hotfoot to.

 

Long minutes passed.

 

In a dark windowpane I watched myself

Turning pages struck golden by candlelight.

I could have been the Duc de Barry

Admiring a well-turned field, a forest

Of turrets under an azure sky,

But I wasn’t.  Instead there was a photograph

Of a schoolboy holding a machine gun while

Puffing on a fat cigar.

 

And later on another one of a woman leaning forward

On a three-legged chair

Holding beside her cheek like a puppet

A picture of her long-faced husband,

Their two mouths half-open

To a street filled with burning garbage,

As if they’d both lurched up

Out of the same nightmare.

 

The Lord Almighty himself

Looking a little nervous too, I noticed,

Peering fretfully over his shoulder

In the wavering light,

This way and then that,

As if missing the company

Of the Good Thief,

And, then, even the Bad.

 

This poem originally appeared in that scruffly anti-hero, Volume 4 of The Ampersand Review.

 

 

Daniel Lawless is a professor of communications at St. Petersburg College and is Editor-in-Chief of Plume Poetry.

Filed under: Poetry

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