by Daniel Edward Moore
Gone Blue, Gone Gray, Gone Away
For Emmanuel Moore, Jr
At the heart of Appalachia, near the Ohio River,
in the back of my Father’s throat,
a combine strips the past from the present.
Inhaling “No,” exhaling “Yes,” as
everything green and gold in between
becomes rows of what can’t be forgotten.
Never have I listened so closely
to the stethoscope swinging from my soul,
or been so devoted to one man’s words
beating like a snare drum in both our wrists
at the end of a civil war battle,
gone blue, gone gray, gone away.
Made as I am of rough southern straw,
broken and bundled in muddy brown fields,
where the near fatal choice of not being chosen,
is a memory none of us have. There were no crows
to scare with hands that did not hold my own.
There were no crows at all.
Who said the lonely
need to find homes
for the hours
nothing inside them loves,
for the minutes in wheelchairs
on long covered porches
watching the sea’s turbulent blue
wash away memories of when they were loved,
those few and forgotten seconds?
What keeps me from diving into you
like a hillbilly boy at that lake in the woods
where wolves watched us undress as the stars
painted our skin with hunger?
Could it be a fear of rocks,
little castles you made at night
when the door was turned
by your father’s hand?
There’s a ring on my hand
that is not your fathers. Focus
on the hand, not the ring.
It will suffer the passing of years,
gold breaking teeth in the mouths of wolves,
in the million ways the gallows swayed
against a future bright. There’s a hillbilly boy
on his pillow tonight dreaming the rope away.
When will bliss remember that craving
does not require permission to bleed
before the veins have spoken?
Conversion occurs at the level of light
on the field as body, body as sky.
Questions are doors in the crack house of heaven
where answers grow like cancerous Redwoods
carried on the back of ants.
Mighty is the way time must be, under glass,
on the wrist of the sick and unfaithful.
So says the man: half woman, half angel.
It’s like waking up with a tongue turned to stone.
My body broken for you, my shame whole as the world.
Where the line break consents to the breath’s revision,
the dream of restraint exhaled on the way
to untying the poem from a bed in your ear,
is that where you find me waiting and watching
to see what your mind does next? Reader beware
of low oxygen levels, of words turning blue,
hanging from trees, nooses with smiles at the end
of a story you remember hearing at bed time.
May the wailing white space make you run
for your life, as metaphors crumble behind each step,
behind the sound of my hands in your head,
turning the page again.
Why wouldn’t the light be grieving
at the hour when all things fade, you included,
on the field’s gold edge, turning black then silent,
so silent it hurts?
This is dusk on the island, when the mind grows still
like a horse asleep where it stands.
Your knees bend slowly as the raptor prays
and more is revealed between claw and beak.
Should more be said about the ignorant prey, about why
the field opens its mouth, so the bones have somewhere to fall?
Even shadows mourn the death of light, yours,
most of all, Little Mustang.