Three Poems | David Prather

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Bipolar Reality 

I have no time for this,
not for the grass growing too fast
for the season, not for the darkening
shadows of rain clouds, not for the wind that pushes
trees down onto power lines.  I have no time

for appointments or meetings or tête-à-têtes.
I have no time for wars or skirmishes or conflicts
or any disagreements.  I don’t even have
time for the placid surface of a lake reflecting
early morning light, stands

of old wood conifers, and two or three
fishermen barely awake on the shore.
I have no taste for sourgrass or lemongrass
or cattails or dogwood.  I have no great desire
for courtyards and palaces,

for kingdoms and colloquies.  Right now,
I want to litter the world with profanity,
but I don’t even have time for that.
I want to call out the vilest words, cast them
like stones upon the earth until they grow

into mountains.  But I have no patience
for mountains.  I have no patience for hillsides
or valleys, monoliths or graves.  I have no patience
for you or for me or for anyone else,
for that matter.  I don’t want the birds
to sing.  I don’t want the water to flow.
I refuse the rain to fall.  I refuse the earth
its orbit around the sun.  I have
no time for this.  I am nothing,
nothing like you’ve ever known.

Elegy for Elegies

What if firearms were literally appendages of flame,
bones of kindling, tendons of cinders, and an inferno of skin?
Would it be a matter of spontaneous combustion,
an imbalance of chemicals suddenly and immediately
doing the only thing they can?

And what about armchairs, a place to take a load off
made entirely of human arms?  Which is much too horrible
to think about, as I am reminded of the Holocaust
my grandmother escaped by marrying an American
long before

all those Jewish bodies were abused
in all those frightening ways, before all those Jewish souls
were suffocated and sent to other trains,
cattle cars.  Yes, cattle cars, a phrase that makes me think
automobiles in bovine shapes with mooing

sounds for angry divers to wave their middle fingers.
Maybe their ring fingers, digits coiled into symbols
of faith, and loyalty, and infinity, brides and grooms
chopping off their own phalanges, with this ring
I thee wed.

I’ll bet people would reconsider marriage,
especially more than once. But there I go again
with shades of Holocaust, which is almost mythical today
because those of us born after just can’t believe
people could do those things.

 But we know they can.  What if
shepherd’s pie were really made of shepherds?
What if lady fingers were a dessert of flesh and bone?
What if blood pudding…well, never mind.
We take all that gore

into our bodies every day.
And how about handcarts, giant rigs of interlocking
fingers, palms turned up, taking the weight
of more than one could carry?
And what about footpaths?

What about severed feet turned sole up
for us to walk upon, sole to sole, all so
morbid, roads and roads and roads
paved with humanity,
god(s) help us.

This sounds like war.
I mean atrocity.  I mean people set on fire,
their arms flapping into the darkness,
screaming, these angels
racing god(s) know where.


I inaugurate spring with the first cutting of the lawn.
The air is still hard with defeat,
and the garden languishes last season’s struggle
with drought and ravenous beetles.

But today there are fists on every tree,
the blossoming knuckles of the apple
ready themselves for the fight to come,
and the dogwood clenches every bud

knowing there will be blood.  Even the sun has itself
all balled up with frustration.  I can feel its anger
battering the world, mourning
the good sense God gave a goose.

I have never seen war, but I can tell what it does
to bodies and minds and spirits, ghosts who wander the earth
seeking vengeance and justice
and other things no one ever seems able to find.

Daffodils already bow low,
their stunning faces cast down in shame
because they’ve done nothing; nothing, that is,
but the practice of being shameful.

I find the first butterfly of the season frantic in the shed,
nervous as a refugee stepping into the light.

Forgive me if I march against you.
Eventually, my hands will open,
the petals unfurl.
And isn’t that astonishing?

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