Tonight I heard the death
scream of conejo.
Her cries for help
spanned a frozen field.
My heart quickened.
It felt safe to sleep here-- warm,
far from coyotes, fox, and fisher cats.
I had thought of conejo
as a silent animal.
But she screams, she pleads,
she does have a voice.
Over the Falls
Once again I go over the falls
in a cascade of chaos,
pulled down by thirst
and a weak will.
This time it feels right,
My years of glimpsing the brink
have not soothed my soul
or allayed my fears.
All of this mess spills over.
An angry maelstrom
blends it together--
all the drunken nights,
the women I couldn’t love
and those who couldn’t love me,
the dogs and boats and trucks I lost,
the parents who couldn’t see me.
I wish I had never seen them.
I still remember that moment
when you noticed my anguish.
I was in so much pain that day.
I tried to hide it but my weakness
spoke clearly to you
as well as my resolve.
The restaurant was spinning.
Voices cackled like a murder of crows.
My ears filled with painful voices--
“Happy Easter” “I love you,”
“so glad we could get together,”
all uttered through plastic smiles,
masked in a veil of cologne and kitchen smells.
You noticed the sweat beading up on my forearms
until I subtly wiped them dry under the table.
You took note, unlike the familiar strangers across from us.
As I attempted to reach for my glass of water,
placed carefully by wait staff on a mustard colored linen,
I realized we could debate its color all day.
I know few things about life.
I know less about how to be a good husband.
I do know that when you saw me reach for that glass
with both hands shaking wildly,
the sweat on my arms,
you allowed me my dignity.
No one noticed but you
and in the chaotic dance of restaurant noise
you softly touched my arm and whispered
I’m so proud of you, baby.
In that moment the banter, the chatter,
the endless noise was sucked into a vacuum.
I still thank you for that.
John Wells began writing fiction years ago and has turned more to poetry with age. He is a sailor and carpenter who has been too long from the sea. He lives in Concord, MA.