Sunday, September 14, 2014

J.D. DeHart- Three Poems

Mortality Rates
I am sure somewhere there is a little man,
hard hat on, chalk in the hand
making computations
(this kind of chalk we used in school that spilled
copious amounts of white powder on us,
a sign of our ancient education, the kind of chalk
our teachers were adept at using, writing in their
wise cursive with brightly colored dresses on)
each scrawl mark tracing the path of an uncle
or a cousin, someone whom I have never met
connected to me in the universe, ready to be dispatched
“passing,” as they say, onto some “happy hunting ground”
Oh, the many idioms we invent for death.
There was a pure version of me, unfiltered
but I was boiled slowly by words
refined by a few cross-ways looks
beaten and pelted into place by sneers
We all used to be actors, actresses, true
Life Size Performers, but everyone tied us up,
dragged us back down to earth
like captured gods or fallen angels
We found our faces dirtied up, our teeth
a little chipped – one more step to empty
gaping mouths, so that our song has ended,
we barely sing, except in the car
when no one is watching us too closely.
The Statue’s Name is Henry
When I was small, I loved Edgar Allan Poe
and what I thought was a bust of Abe Lincoln.
Turns out, it was a cologne bottle but back then
I imagined it was a grand piece of history.
Once when I gathered a great fever, I visited
my aunt’s house to cool down
(my house had no air conditioning)
When I left, she gave the “bust” to me as a gift
which I promptly named Henry, ignoring
the truth on purpose, playing a kind of game,
then finding that the acquisition
was the worst part, throwing the latest object
into a pile of other pieces, then moving on
to obsess over a new item of little significance.

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