I died today or yesterday of fleas and famine – sooner both, but consciousness and hunger haunt my rest. I fought life hard, bore countless pups, though none would know me now, And ran tantivy with my gang, now mostly gone. Today, I hop three-legged door-to-door, my fourth snapped by a motorbike when I was young, a mangled stilt I always wanted gone. Like cleats my dry dugs wither in the sun. I lean against a wall or splay on restaurant floors in hopes of table scraps, kind words and touch. New fingers rub behind my ears, massage the cartilage below, and gently rub the wetness of my nose. My tongue lolls in the sand. The words elude me, though …
You will never again be this alone or alive, Near your mother lying dead in the breakdown lane, And you in the travel lane, trying to stand on spindly legs, A fawn among the speeding headlights, mystified. How did you get here? who licked you clean? Will you, too, be hit? If not, who’ll suckle you? Will a highway crew or highway crows recycle you? I cannot sleep for thinking of you. – Bill Schubart November 2017
On a coral reef you lay to die and breathless lay there eye to eye
Winter strikes, blasts away at our sanity, Engages us and brings us down. Weightless, I sway in an eddy of doubt As waves of alcohol course through my veins Like errant bands of hooligans Terrorizing shock weary nerve endings. Slowly I disaggregate into a state Wherein my parts grow tired of adhesion Seek solice in their entropy And I am left a mist to be dispersed by your first word.
In the ragtime of the mind will you or I be left behind? You will ask a question. And how will I surround it? Like a pintid aboriginal with dance and shouts and childlike derision? Or simply lurk around it in embarassed indecision? If I had posed the question first, how would you respond? Or would you answer it at all? Like trees in poorly planted arbors, we compete for distant light. Neither you or I can grow so it is time for me to go.
And in no land I walk through ferns Where friends I now no longer know Wade into slippery streams, dive in dark pools and take no notice. My life, a hundred times transcribed in conversation, Telephoned in microwaves that are absorbed in childhood forests, adolescent mountains, becomes but heat. Weak signals of myself arrive And cool like love songs through a wire.
On a coral reef you lay to die and breathless lay there eye to eye With rippling morays where they hide in turbid currents deep inside of Leyte Gulf. Did you see me even then? For I too lay drowning in an amniotic sea, awaiting passage to maternal lethé, Suffused in wet, subdermal light and ignorant of you. Underwater blood that seeps from you looks more like smoke That drifts across a battle field of sand and reef. The odium of war persist above. Wounded in a vast littoral uterus, you know you are a father. Your father knows you are his son. Alone he waits for word of you, but you are speechless now and dying. I seem to …
A wood duck trapped in the icing pond waits. It’s heart, a subtle engine, diesels in the lead December wind. There is no struggle, no shift in death. The spirit migrates, the wood duck stays, a still warm vacancy. Will I know when it is over? An aperture appears in which we dissappear. Like frantic children fallen through the ice, we panic. See the shadows of our rescuers above in a limpid fluvial light, A wordless colloquy of facial gestures, beg for absolution. We drift apart, born off on different currents. And what of us? Does the spirit migrate, drown or freeze? It’s cold inside our house, a neuraesthenic cold, impervious to heat. My dog has watched the duck all …