Two Poems

The War at Home

Did the neighbors hear it, two sharp pops

that cracked the dawn’s smooth glass?

I looked out front and saw a figure

pacing slowly past the house,

a standardissue pistol lengthening

his white right hand.

I knew the day would come

when armed invaders would put

the whole town under law:

its grocery store and horses,

its smalltime orchards and its backyard farms.

They dressed in black wool pants and tshirts,

red bandannas knotted at their necks,

their hair cropped Mormonshort.

They carried hand guns, hunting knives,

and battleready 5G radios,

and raised electrified perimeters

to keep us safe (their word) inside.

I’ve seen their observation blinds,

prepped and fully kitted out, between

the Red Delicious rows at Shelburne Farm.

We only want what’s best for you,

they said, as true believers often do.

They promised endless visitations

of their lambent god, a sort of dawn god

pale and glimmering in the atmosphere

above the conservation pines.

They made us watch the eastern sky,
because the war would come from that direction,
so they told us, from the east.

But this was not that day. The cop

strode past the cooling deer corpse,

curled up in the roadside sand

like a sleeping child, and climbed

into his cruiser, slamming the door.

Maybe that was just the way they do it:

two bullets to a downed deer’s head,

executionstyle, then rumble off

to leave the bright, dead envelope behind.

The war dragged on. Rockets arced

across the sky, falling on the station

and apartment blocks without a warning.

All the precinct’s children huddled

in the theatre. The screens stayed dark

throughout the shellingno reports

except the sounds of shouts and gunfire

in the street, running feet and small

unrecogized explosions. On stage

an old man ranged the kids in rows

and told them stories, taught them how

to sing some halfremembered songs.

The dawn god, high and wakeful

in his eastern palace, kept refining his campaign.

The gunfire stopped, an elderly survivor said,

so out we came. I don’t know how to say it.

There were limbs and fingers everywhere,

and clothes and bodies strewn about.

The deer lay in the roadside sand unclaimed.



Family Resemblances

[ 1 ]
At the abandoned harbor

sun raked down the rusted sides of container ships

listing by the gantry cranes long disused

My brother squatted by a pool of oil

rainbowed drab and gray

That boy

could liberate a sparrow from a mess of old tires

I mean the virtue nested in his eyes

and sparrowed out of his eyes like rays

and he was kinged by it

small king the necessary air would touch

attempting to be gentle

[ 2 ]

That’s good my mother said That’s good

and I said What’s good

and she said June

No one ventured on the water any longer

but the water sometimes ventured over us

in the dark

with no wheel to redirect it

and the foreshore on the mornings after

reeked of tar and shone like mica in the sun

[ 3 ]

In a raglan coat the color of a crow

my sister looked out over drifts of waves

going every way those days
a child’s disorder
disrespecting all the known laws of physics

My sister as a raglan crow looked out

diminishing and diminishing

a human horizon I was veering away from

but it was just her way

to disassociate

the named thing from the namer

late deconstructionist

and her skull filled up with darkness

like a lesson

[ 4 ]

My father had already departed for the moon

and I mean that literally

None of us were sure what happened after

not the old philosopher

not the onearmed general with his useless weapon

My father climbed up into his happy smile and departed

years before he died

I feel him sometimes in the wind

a jaune door swinging in the wind but never slamming

Some day he may come pouring from the sky

with all his insubstantial cormorants around him

the surface of the bay in frenzy

reflecting the frenzy in the clouds


Image: photo by Jeffrey Hamilton on Unsplash, licensed under CC 2.0.

Jonathan Weinert
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