by Crawdad Nelson
Far off the concussive message of sporting arms:
goosehunters deep on the bay, lying flat on their backs,
on floating caskets lining the flats, on flat water,
on the flats, on backs
like disabled beetles lifting single skeletal arms
–firing into conflicted sky–
as rain simmers everywhere, goes on forever,
and wind tries me across the cheek; out there on the island
ring of steel against dried timbers,
splintering planks, sinking in;
there’s something to be said,
wind says it without me,
distant shotguns pronounce it with modern accent
geese high over all proclaim it with courage
despite revolving winds and birdshot,
exclaiming “here I am,” sailing into gunfire,
eternity at a thousand feet,
far off the beating drum of time choosing who dies,
I see nothing coming up the alley, nothing soaked
to bare skin on barren coast,
walking home, eating the body.
I see steel across darkness into shadow,
someone grunts, and does it again, steel
clean and hard against the wood, into the wood, the wood.
Sitting in the room old as time
I watch the white dress flap in the wind
and sand falls like dry rain seeping inside the walls;
solving and resolving things, measuring good and bad,
deep and wide;
voices rising from floorboards confused in purpose and effect,
crying out schedules and times, charging two bits a plug,
accusing visitors of cold murder,
calling out names;
whereas the bay renews itself at dawn and dusk, purges
trenchant obstacles and the small parts of expired creatures,
that form the breast of the sea, and time
is unheard of on the soft roll,
unheard of and unheard.
Nothing creeps in like a night fog.
Discovering old Playboys on the shelf
at Cardoza’s antique shop I relive secretly 1970s ,
when nobody shaved.
Watching girls pass outside, swinging hips,
between jobs, after clients, business;
across the street hookers tarry,
disguise their intent, speak with their hands.
Under the $40 skillets and War 1 medals
a cluster of stiletto knives,
surrounded by dead raccoon coats
still slightly inky and rainy,
and one has to push through big band records
and carved balsa salmon trolling lures,
triple barbed and hideously clawed,
the type that hang like charms in every old garage or shed
on the Pacific coast, smiling anachronistic herring,
awaiting rebirth, to discover the genuine stone blade
or the box of fragile obsidian arrowheads
dating to antiquity. Time comes wrapped in trade blankets,
a man’s last decorated pair of nuts
for gambling, burled and runic
as a set of oracle bones.
What do you know about love
wondered the bank teller, accepting my nom de plume
on a $25 check
you ought to know something if you write
I tried to explain how little I knew with a simple
gesture and a few words
but she caught and held my eyes,
on her toes which
was like watching the sun rise
as her neckline
dazzled with gravity
I wish I knew what you know,
she offered, but I said it was far simpler
to be a poem than to make one.
I wished I knew less.
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Crawdad Nelson has published poems, stories, essays and articles in the small press for over twenty years. He has been editor, pasteup man and photographer as well. He currently works at a community college helping people understand what they think about things they read and write.
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photo by Skot Horn