UNDERGROUND VOICES: POETRY
D. PHILLIP CLIFFORD
The Moon That Lights My Dead Father
The moon might rest
satisfied the coroner could eat his lunch
and not feel odd
doesn’t actually wrinkle
under a mat of hair and head,
and thirty-eight degrees is not too cold to smoke,
if there is reason enough,
that coffin-wise, a man looks greased like catfish.
Men got laid with that look,
crying Agnes! Agnes! Damn, Agnes!
And the moon could rest,
be a river or a lover
or a jukebox or a sire,
blue and sheared of the mortality
that could teach a boy
light does play tricks,
and all of Whitman’s preaching could not
make this body sing anything
but a woman’s name during orgasm.
How often my soul would say,
My hope is in He who sired me and
gathered around me as Adam gathered
and named those beasts, one after another,
until eternity took them up and kept them.
Yet someone sweeps their sidewalk this night,
leads the dirt away to be corralled in a gutter,
calling in their children,
one after the other,
and mine, these blue-tongued adverbs,
have listed and become the grinning hog heads
languishing in a meat locker.
Once in awhile I will walk these streets and listen
for a sniffle or a bruised knee and run in that direction.
But the slapping of my sandal betrays me,
gives me up for no pieces of silver,
and, of course, there is nothing around the corner
except the reflection of mice
working the marrow from a bone.
I am the only blue note on the jukebox,
help you sleep the night through.
The wine-colored smear on your lips,
the curl in your hair and
my five-fingered discount.
The one blue note on the jukebox,
and I’ll hurt myself for you.
The switch in my hips
swivels towards you I’m fever
Let me run a comb through that head.
Just one blue note, baby and
we’ll fight like men and women are suppose to.
One blue note and a lock of hair and
we’ll jump up and into the music.
Never mind the Philistines,
mama wants to wrest this war from you.
D. Phillip clifford has taught English at many
levels and is currently working toward his M.F.A.
at the University of Arizona. His poems have
appeared in Persona Magazine and Category.
© 2007 Underground Voices