a half-sunken bridge spanned a boggy marsh and every other year or so someone from the adjacent towns there was lost, never to be found. boundary lines were redrawn which made the bog a sorta no man’s land and no one had to claim the dead upon their land. children were outlawed from crossing the bridge and when they grew into teenagers the bog became a common hideaway where adults rarely looked. were they to be sought out, they would not be found. for those who wished to be left alone would never be seen again. only the bog and the bridge, and the sky kept the secrets.
the lucky ones
i had gone to the back of the room and left them telling their stories one by one with seldom an interruption. the voices gave warmth to a cool autumn morning while the delta breeze slid soundlessly across the train tracks and the torn upholstery of abandoned cars to the branches of the trees tapping on the glass all around us to get in.
i poured myself a mug of hot coffee and stirred in a bit of sugar, standing there with my back to them, listening half-heartedly and somewhere between consciousness and last night’s dream.
after a few hearty slugs of the black stuff my eyes woke up first and stared into a congregation of uneven framed black and white portraits from times before now. century old tired and long faces looked back at me and over my shoulder as if they were part of our gathering in this old meeting
hall, a former nondescript bar once with billiards for the truck drivers and laborers in the yards.
i felt a chill carry over the nape of my neck as i realized i had become some medium some conduit between my audience hung by nails alongside coffee mugs on the wall, and the living boisterous
true fellowship behind us. i stood perfectly still then
turned to see the speaker at the head of the table, an older gentleman with a way about him and expressions i would not forget to remember him by. as i turned slowly back my eyes getting larger to see, alighted on an old rusted peg, the visage of the living man! he was silent yearning to be free, framed right there before me… and in small white numerals in the corner of the photograph… i read in disbelief the year! it was 1923.
salt whispering of the great sea change
She knew the siphoning to be as surreptitious as it was dangerous down the river a ways, where community and real estate parted, where souls were handed off shamelessly to areas unincorporated and lesser know than a cold case file in a sub-basement archive a steep fall off the side of a paper trail, where who knows? met who cares? in the quicksand of the lost. shoelaces, cell phones, rolling papers, broken glass, one-eyed jacks, matchbooks with names scrawled into them, worry stones, loose change. there, gathered en masse, were those who frightened her by their differences, ghosts, salt whispering of the great sea change.
He was demure in between binges. She was the polliwog in his flying fish fry, hiding under the curtain in the fringes. They were mutuals who secretly willed a corruption, playing hide-n-seek in a hobby lobby of manipulations. She got busy with telemarketers on the home line, keeping them guessing in a cold steep run up of daytime, followed by the evening news, the blackouts and hysterics. The whole enchilada was ready made for talk show generics. Not her. People like her.
in the street one day
years after the war
a soundless middle ground
cast solid between them
would we ever
refabricate and share our
or simply freeze