Whiskey and Cigarettes at the End

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Winter drizzle, a hill cemetery, open,
naked but for the stumps of stone
arranged in neat precise lines,
or laid haphazardly depending
upon the desire of the deceased,
and will of the living.
Jackstraw pines separate the hill from the road,
mostly dead or dying from exhaust fumes
and oil slicked runoff.
 
On a path at the bottom of the hill
a small white-headed man pushes
a smaller white-headed woman in a wheelchair.
He stops at a bench, turns her toward the stones,
lights a cigarette for her, hands her a flask, settles onto the bench.
Sitting still, waiting patiently, they are dressed for the weather,
as if they intend to wait for a change.
 
The old places are all deserted, the old times are all abandoned.
What remains are a few faces, the flavor of tobacco and whiskey,
food is a necessary evil like using the toilet and clipping toenails.
The business that remains is more than just letting go,
it is tearing loose from what is left of the grand possibility –
what was made and what became of it.
 
 


 
 Open link night at the Pub
 

Thirteen Ways of the Desert

I
The desert is painted
ocher, turquoise and white
in the right kind of light.
 
II
In the desert there are times
when the only sound
is the hollow wind.
 
III
In the desert
the heat of day
vies for your allegiance
with the cold of night.
 
IV
What you see in the desert
is sometimes a reflection
of what you believe.
 
V
What you believe in the desert
is sometimes what becomes real.
 
VI
In the desert there are ghost flowers,
barren cousins to the blazing star.
You must follow the bees
to know the difference.
 
VII
Flowers are surrounded by needles,
the desert protects its own.
 
VIII
There are reservations in the desert,
places where the mind can go
when pain is unbearable.
 
IX
Though the desert is harsh
sand is a soft bed
perfect for bleaching bones.
  
X
Desert mistletoe is unarmed.
Its seeds are masters of deceit
sprouting where others dare not.
 
XI
There is a valley of death in the desert.
The Old Woman Mountains
nurture life above the clouds.
 
XII
In the desert you may not remember your name
but it can be fatal to forget what you are.
 
XIII
The glossy black wings of the silky flycatcher
reflect the beauty of the desert
and remind us the blackbird is everywhere.
 

After reading Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird by Wallace Stevens

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