In The Blood

Resting heart beats
speak to me,
languid notes
of a rhythmic song.
But it’s the measures
in between
that keep me awake,
chasing away sleep
with a stricture
of my breath.
I am still,
afraid if I move
the spell of
my pulse
will be broken,
my neurons
will resist firing
leaving me a husk.
           I mumble a
half-remembered psalm,
staring at the grooves
in the ceiling
for an epiphany,
or a fare-thee-well.
           Heart beats
speak to me,
telling me I am alive
but the measures
in between
know the truth.

A Lightning Strike

He walked out from under
a billboard for
a local radio station
who wanted him to know
they were Pennsylvania’s home for classic rock.
He stepped onto the outskirts of town
with no purpose
and $38 in his pocket.
He had shaved his head
the night before
in a truck stop diner’s bathroom
and now as
it began to rain,
he felt the pat-pat-pat
of the fat drops on his scalp.
It would be daylight
in a few hours and he wanted
to be in a bed before then.
Entering a development,
he loped through yards
avoiding porch and street lights.
A rancher at an intersection
was lit up, a form
passing through the kitchen.
Kneeling behind a shed
he watched the house go black
and a man emerge
moments later,
striding purposefully to his car.

The constellations and he
had become friendly
during his lost nights.
Orion didn’t approve
of his lifestyle
but wouldn’t condemn him
while Cassiopeia tutted
like his mother.
They told each other stories
with no endings,
dangling as blandishments
on each other’s necks.
He was just glad to have some friends
that were always there.

He was prepared to pick the lock,
but the door was open.
He took a moment to adjust
to the house’s version of darkness
and then walked through the rooms.
Bare white walls
framed electronics
and small chairs. The leaf
of a plastic plant
brushed his arm.
On a shelf next to ancient trophies,
he found a photo
of a man and a woman,
arms wrapped tightly around each other,
rosy cheeks pressed together.

The rain became a thunderstorm
as he discovered the bedroom.
A lightning strike
brightened the room
illuminating the woman’s form
lying on the bed. He froze,
swearing at his miscalculation.
Before he could back away,
a series of flashes
and he could see she had turned
to look at him.
In the ephemeral
he saw a soft face bloomed
with tears.

“Who are you?” she asked,
her voice barely beating out
the thunder
for attention.
She turned away and in a lull
of the storm, he heard,
“doesn’t matter.”
Then she stretched her arm behind her
and opened her hand.
Exhaustion led him
to lie down in the bed
like an obedient dog.
He put his hand in hers
and she pulled him close,
wrapping his arm
around her stomach.
She sobbed,
her body rocking gently.
His fingers entwining with hers
was all the sympathy
he could offer.

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