Delegation from the Local Music Scene

As long as a face listens to the music
clean, almond shaped, sucker-boned
growing up in the country
hacking away lazily, ear for genius,
head for notes, shy, waiting to be discovered.

You hover on the edge of nightfall
construction in the details, small changes
that take you off to a different tree
then wherever a ribbon is strung,
a Marquis marked, changed more than you supposed.

The uniform songs about your homeland
embarrass you with their sentimentality.
violent chants about your birthplace
ring like a bell, mutter even louder
than the whipped puppy under the bed
and the singing cement outside your window

at 3 a.m., waiting to find a fist in the mouth,
a peephole through the wooden door
where dark skin against light learns lessons
an organist can trill, ownership of the moon
and the morning shafts of sunlight in a bar.
Here is where you are now, Babe. You've arrived.

First Law of Thermodynamics

When it comes down to it, you and I
will deal as we always do
in our own unique ways
with the vagaries of finality.

You will see my passing as natural,
maybe a little karmic,
your punishment for bragging
that everything was going so well.
Nothing can sustain such perfection.

I'll complain that God is just damn difficult
and what did I do something to deserve this,
alternate between the peace
which passes understanding
and the first law of thermodynamics,
nothing created, nothing destroyed.

People tell me their end desires
as if I had some kind of inside track -
"Should something bad happen
let me die. For God's sake, don't bring me back.
If I drop dead at this table, move to another.
Walk away. Just let me go."
Foolish pessimists, what do they know
who expect me to stay past well enough.

Do you think my body will float away,
an uncomprehending corpse?
No, I'll be the nightmare victim
trapped in a Florida nursing home,
existing for years on nothing but air.

A billboard flashes by - "Someday."
That's all it says, all it has to say.
Nothing to understand, no cosmic plan.
On good days, I romp with grandchildren,
on bad days, pick out funeral garb.

And when your time comes, my kinsman,
you won't go gently either.
We have to play out the parts as written,
see them through to the end.

You play the part of the grieving widower
and I will be the wind.

In The Muir Woods

The bowl-shaped valley hides
from homeless in doorways,
limos ratcheting over the hills,
Victorians descending down to seals,
and the skater in a pink tutu
twirling his lace parasol.

No sunlight invades the bottom of the bowl.
Giant ferns reach outstretched palms to the light,
futile sunbeams stream from the top
towards fire-hardened roots, older than the millennium.
It is so quiet here, so cool
the trees generate their own air.

Somewhere developers pull out
their well-thumbed plans,
diagram their static dreams.
A breeze blows through,
the sigh of an ancient enduring
beyond her ancestors.

Then, breaking the harsh solemnity,
delighted children sprint the paths.
They will enter the cradles created
at the pedestal of the trees
only if no one takes their picture
and no one steals their souls.

Spiritual Pirate

I refuse to justify
my fragile faith
in the face
of your perpetual doubt.

Escaping, I defy
generations of atheism.
Circling around Pamlico Sound
trailing clouds of incense and myrrh,
around the Outer Banks I sail,
eyes fixed on a distant horizon
where a tiny dove leads the way
to New Providence.

On Nassau's shores
I eat pineapple tarts and
entertain the cockatoos
With my whispered prayers.

Like Calico Jack I circle the horn
A spiritual pirate off Paradise Cay,
retracing Anne Bonney's footsteps,
navigating around Deadman's Reef,
fishing for shark off Cedar Key
and blessing the sun I definitely know
God created just for me.

In the end I'll always defy
The sneer of naysayers
Bereft of belief.
Like Blackbeard stumbling
beneath the blow
I will let mortality go
And cry, "Well done, Lad,"
To the swordsman.

Wendy Thornton has published in The Literary Review,
Riverteeth, Confluence and other literary magazines.
She has a new story coming out Summer 08 in the
MacGuffin Magazine. She is a regular invited reader
for the Let's Go Downtown Series, The Word is Spoken,
Third Eye Spoken and at the Gainesville Civic Media
Center in Gainesville, FL. She has completed a book
of short stories and a book of poetry and is finishing
a novel.

2004 - 2009 Underground Voices