Monday, February 10, 2014

Richard Schnap- Three Poems


The sun sank from the rusty sky
As he left work after a full day
Chained to the phone until it became
A third hand soldered to his body.

Still, it was the best job he’d had
Since they closed the mill and he
Wandered the want ads like a lost man
Stranded in the ruins of a dying world

Where abandoned factories clung
To the blackened earth like the cold bones
Of extinct dinosaurs, their fiery
Voices silenced until only the wind

Whined through their empty skeletons,
A landscape where he could almost
See the ghost of his dead father
Coughing up prayers in the dreamless night.

For Bobby

Were you still in Vietnam
When you amazed the crowds
In smoky little rooms with the power
Of your voice? Were you still

Deep in the jungle when you
Turned somersaults down the bar
Like an Olympic gymnast winning
A gold medal? Were you still

Reloading your gun when on
Every New Year’s Eve you’d sing
That Otis Redding song better
Than Otis himself? And were you

Still hearing the helicopters
When you said you wanted to die
On stage as the cancer in your belly
Slowly ate you alive?


Distant sirens sing
Ballads both joyous
And mournful, as if
Somewhere a new life
Is opening its eyes
While elsewhere

An old one is closing
Theirs for the final
Time. I listen
As their voices weave
Closer and then
Farther away, and

Wonder which one
Cries the loudest
In the echoing night,
And whether "Hello"
Or "Goodbye" moves
The heart most of all.

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