THE LAUGHING BONE‎ > ‎WORD‎ > ‎POETRY‎ > ‎

Aftermath


Photo by Himbeerdoni


years back now
summer was a coming in
with all the
not stop you never now
and I'm now
the only one
left with any memory
any memory at all
the only one still now living
tied upon the cross
of this here skeleton
with the spider web threads
of a fate I have yet to figure
but it's me and me alone
is able to gather up
and collect again
the forgotten fragments
all the broken bones of memory
of what my young mind
once thought was a horror
and came to understand
now as I tremble
under the weight of all my years
was a merely a glimpse
into the truth of things
a moment when
I was able to read
the Living Word of God
there writ in blood and tears
upon the faces of all I loved
and all every and all ever
and all that I never
thought I'd live to witness
the terrible suffering
and sickness unto Death
Death in Life
and Life in Death
and I'll not stop never now
remembering
cursed as it is
to never forget
no matter how strong the wine
no matter how sweet the song
no matter how deep
that river runs
and keeps that Lake
alive full ready to spill over
and out of its wretched hole
and flood the world
with it's blood dimmed tide
drowning not only the beautiful
and not only the innocent
but also the passionately convicted
the irrevocably lost
the absolutely damned
then and only then
will I finally and gratefully
sink down also
and breath in forgetfulness
that black water of oblivion
and free my bones
from this tired tired flesh
and wait right there
until the end of all days
to meet that Awful and Terrible Maker
who's been dreaming
the dream of my life
who been dreaming
the nightmare
of the world
right here
right now
listening
in Silence
as we sit here
surrounded by screams

so it was one night
years back now
it was me and Jones
and Mr. Eliot
who Jones called "Skinny"
floating there
in an old wooden boat
out late that night
on the Lake
setting a trot line
across the Mill Pond
from the post rose up from
the sunken old car
to just past the Founder's Graves
suspended under the vast East Texas sky
so deep and dense with star fires
and of it all reflected there
on the surface of the Lake
that we was all stilled
by the beauty and the wonder of it
and it was Mr. Eliot who spoke
those words that felt like
everything silent
in my heart being spoken
"Sweet Time run softly till I end my song"
he said to no one in particular
later on I knew I'd heard it wrong
and it wasn't even his words
but didn't matter then
and don't matter now
it was truth to me
and time cannot diminish that
and I truly believed
we were drifted there
two old men and a young boy
inside an old wooden boat
through that nebulous and galaxial wonder
of the Milky Way

Mr. Eliot had been baiting hooks
along the trot line
as Jones laid it gently
down into the water
and my job was
to reach into a tin bucket
and fetch out minnows
for Mr. Eliot to set on the hook
now
them minnows
were like little quicksilver flashes
and I could never catch 'em by trying
so
Jones showed me
how to hold my hand like a cave
and wait for one of them
to seek out sanctuary inside
then
he told me
the very instant
that little minnow settled down there
you just slowly slowly
close your hand around it
and hold it
like the little finger
of the sweetest person you know
so this I did
until I'd captured quicksilver
in my hand
but Mr. Eliot'd get mad at me
cause he had to wait
with a empty hook there hanging
fact was I was slow to learn
the mysteries of the minnow
and every now and then
as I was willing my hand
to be a sweet and safe place
in the water of that tin bucket
Jones'd have to say
"Skinny, let the boy be.
Neither them minnows nor us is in any hurry
to get a hook through they head."

And when all the world
sudden changed that night
it was when I was
holding a minnow
in my hand outstretched
toward Mr. Eliot
the trot line snapping tight
sudden shock singing
over the oarlock
and the hook
Mr. Eliot was holding
got set right through
the center of his hand
yanking him
nearly out of the boat
and Jones too
was nearly carried over
as the line whipped down
whistling now
the old boat rolling
us about to tumble
into deep water
and Mr. Eliot was
Goddamning
over and over
I was just frozen
thought thawing
in slow motion falling
until Jones cut the line
with his knife
and it snapped away
like a dog's bite
into the night
Jones asked me
"Boy you all right?"
and I nodded
and then he sees
the trouble Mr. Eliot was having
and get a pair of needle nose pliers
and says
"Here you go, Skinny
cut the head off a that hook
and slip it out you."
And Skinny did that
and said,
"What in the God's Green Hell was that?"
And Jones said,
"Damned if I know, but it's
something bigger than our boat,
I tell you that."
we all looked back there
towards the old car post
and the waters there
were troubled and churning
but then
as we watched and waited
for who knows what
they stilled over calm
and for long
returned to reflecting
the starry world above
like nothing ever happened
I don't think
I'd even so much
as taken a breath
"Hows your hand there, Skinny?" asked Jones
and Mr. Eliot said
"I expect I'll live
but Goddamn."
"How're you boy," asked Mr. Eliot.
I wasn't able then nor now
to say nothing to that
and just nodded at him
and looked back at Jones
I guess the look on my face
made both of them laugh there
a little uneasy
in my recollection now
but there was no laughter in my soul
not then and not now
something within me
had just given way
like a rotten floor
and I remembered then
a thing
that might've been like
hope
and as it was
I opened my fist
to find only
the crushed remnants
of a minnow
quicksilver
turned to blood and guts
and I felt it then
but didn't know what it was
but nothing
not stop you never now
nothing
for all every and all ever
and all that I never
nothing
would ever be same
for me
in the aftermath
of that night



1/6/16