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by EDWARD BEATTY
Shostakovich’s preludes and fugues sanctify the living room,
ring throughout the cold mobile home. It is late autumn and
a man, his gloved hands deep in the pockets of a down vest,
rocks in a mission oak chair, eyes shut, back straight, grateful
the genius both terrorized and honored could compose amidst
chaos, that his brain and brittle fingers salvaged beauty, and
that she, his friend, now also dead, captured his sound. Two
who not only survived but thrived during the Second World
War, a variation on an eternal theme. Grateful too for a kitten
tossed from a truck last week asleep in the cardboard box at
his feet. Suddenly the furnace rattles, blows, buries the music,
for ten minutes seems to sentence two artists to oblivion, stop
time. It shuts off and he hears nothing but piano until the final
piece ends. In silence the room gradually darkens; sunset tints
the stereo cabinet’s glass, fires a hillside beyond the pasture.
Thee gunshots vibrate the walls and he thinks, “Just hunters.”
He considers turning on the news, opening a can of tuna, pack
of crackers, feast for two, but his hands, warm and content as
the kitten, are reluctant to move and in his head a bit of music
returns, expands until the room becomes an apartment in a city
almost six decades ago, today, or years into the future, where
two musicians play as a party continues toward dawn, family,
friends, maybe neighbors or a stranger who happened to look
in a window as one looked out, all gathered round, captivated,
history’s latest dictator drunk and dozing at his headquarters’
desk, unaware his soldiers are kicking down the wrong door.
Edward Beatty lives in rural northwest Illinois.
by CHARLES ORLOSKI
The man playing Cat Stevens’ music
called-it a night, cased-away an acoustic guitar,
and Hurricane Agnes flood-waters receded below Pringle Township hill.
So it came to this for Specialist 4 Fambo,
Pa National Guard, June 1972 –
Last sip warm Rolling Rock,
A happy valley between young breasts,
Babies’ milk needing ice.
“Active-duty” block-ice delivery
Topped 8-hours shifts as Woodlawn Dairy deliveryman, and service to one’s country
Allowed Fambo to love a Body & Fender man’s daughter all night long,
until naked-awakening inside
A “Deuce & a half” cab;
Maybe never seeing her again, maybe an altar, who knew?
Fambo dismounted the truck,
felt a dark dawn, a day God made;
& like clouds, he had to relieve himself –
Where to piss in a flooded city?
Misericordia College doors closed,
too many eyes around 109thstaging-area, and Fambo opened an Army jeep gas cap, let piss-stream flow into a fuel tank.
Yellow was the color blending with
Leaded gasoline, de-pollinating spark plugs.
Shake off that whale member, Fambo,
Detour around the Susquehanna River bridge, ice don’t last forever.
Jesus – had he believed in military honor code, such things Sanitation, locating a tree,
But a god-damned Captain did his rounds,
& Fambo tried zippering-up, stop the piss flow; too late, he must mature another day.
Lingering taste of burnt-dogs on a camp fire, hands stung by unloading blocked-ice at Pringle’s Red Cross station, weed odor
On Cassandra’s breath,
A corpse found a mile down river,
A singer’s warning about wild-worlds,
How hard it actually was “to get by.”
Dressed-down, Section 8–something-or-other,
Fambo hadn’t a reason
For pissing in gasoline tanks —
Wilkes-Barre flood victims
and Pa National Guard deserved better than him.
He wished he could have “held it”
a while longer, stood bladder-pressure like
Napoleon, subdued a urine surge,
maybe never having had to say goodbye to a Specialist 4 stripe, until gasoline rationing,
even & odd license plate number revival,
the Shah’s prostrate, get gas while its piss warm Hormuz cheap.
Charles Orloski lives in Taylor, Pennsylvania. He can be reached at CCDJOrlov@aol.com.
The Middle Aged
by ROBERT A. DAVIES
We wear our
pass through the world –
voices calling us
to old dreams,
what we will be.
To pass through
the world to what
we no longer ask,
used to ignorance.
smile at in
children and others –
we are the tough
birds who survived –
blood runs down
the bankers’ walls
and we are not
in silent woods
has lost its
Who we are has
(Previously published in Four Quartets)
Robert A. Davies lives in Portland, OR. His forthcoming book is Melons and Mendelssohn. He can be reached at rjdavies3@ comcast.net.
Editorial Note: (Please Read Closely Before Submitting)
To submit to Poets’ Basement, send an e-mail to CounterPunch’s poetry editor, Marc Beaudin at email@example.com with your name, the titles being submitted, and your website url or e-mail address (if you’d like this to appear with your work). Also indicate whether or not your poems have been previously published and where. For translations, include poem in original language and documentation of granted reprint/translation rights. Attach up to 5 poems and a short bio, written in 3rd person, as a single Word Document (.doc or .rtf attachments only; no .docx – use “Save As” to change docx or odt files to “.doc”). Expect a response within one month (occasionally longer during periods of heavy submissions).
Poems accepted for online publication will be considered for possible inclusion of an upcoming print anthology.
For more details, tips and suggestions, visit CrowVoiceJournal.blogspot.com and check the links on the top right. Thanks!