After the Victims were Buried
Everyone went back to the farmhouse where
Friends and wives of neighbors had set out food.
At first there was just the sounds of chewing and
Swallowing and maybe a child piping up a few times -
Everyone still conscious of the empty spaces, but then
The talk got around to planting and ethanol and what
New problems lay ahead. Some of the older women
Got up and began to scrape small leftovers into bigger
Dishes and clear away the empty plates and the men,
a few at a time began to wander out the door.
Long ago someone had set up stakes and now George
Went into the barn and brought out horseshoes. Which
Was fine with the women, they had all the clearing up to
Do and stuff to discuss while they washed and put things
Away. The windows were open, a warm afternoon for
Early May and soon the rhythmic clang of metal against
Metal added to the scraping of plates and rattle of silverware.
The pallbearers and almost all of the men had dressed in
dark suits and now they took off their jackets and rolled
Up the sleeves of their white shirts and they resembled
Members of a sect, perhaps religious, like the Amish only
No one wore a beard. The grass and all the bushes and
Young trees were a clear, bright green, and as the men
Moved from one stake to the other, they formed a pattern
Of black and white on a green chessboard.
And so the men followed their patterns outside and in
The kitchen the women followed the routines that had
Been handed down since who knew when but it was a
Comfort, the breaking of bread together, and the clearing
up afterward, the soft voices and the quieting of the
children and the men finding something active to do
with their bodies when everyone was faced with a situation
That no one, down through all the ages, had ever been able
To make any sense of.
Explosion in the Afternoon
Our old man can explode with anger
Over the smallest dumb thing
Like a gallon of milk left sitting on
The fridge door not closed all the way
Someone’s shoes sitting empty in
The middle of the living room
And the TV still on
He’d use real cuss words
So loud the neighbors could hear
And scream back for him to shut
The —– up
And our baby sister woke up crying
And mom yelling because we woke
I’d take off running through the back yard
Down by the old bridge where the train
Tracks crossed the swamp
And imagine myself a hobo swinging aboard
A slow train to China
Or any place far enough away
Where all you’d hear was the chatter
Of crickets in the tall grass
The ghost of a whistle from the days
The trains still ran.
There weren’t so many babies
And Mom and Dad would shut
The doors and be as quiet as the night.
Born and raised in Cleveland OH. Attended Univ. of Kentucky, Fenn College
Received BFA from Bowling Green State Univ.
Worked in libraries for many years.
Spend a lot of time reading, gardening in season. Interested in natural world,conservation of untouched places–forests, wetlands, prairies.
Written 2 novels (unpublished). Published several short stories & many poems in literary, small press, and local publications.