May 4, 2016

Three Poems By Tom Sheehan: "Applepine Mountain", "A Small Red Star for Me and My Father", "Trout Fishing with Rommel's Last-known Foe"

Tom Sheehan has published 23 books and has had multiple work in most of the following publications: Ocean Magazine, Rosebud, Linnet’s Wings, Serving House Journal, Eclectica, Copperfield Review, KYSO Flash, La Joie Magazine, Soundings East, Vermont Literary Review, Literary Orphans, Indiana Voice Journal, Frontier Tales, Deep South Magazine, Western Online Magazine, Provo Canyon Review, 3 AM Magazine, Vine Leaves Journal, Nazar Look, Eastlit, Rope & Wire Magazine, The Literary Yard,  KYSO Journal, Green Silk Journal, Fiction on the Web, The Path, Faith-Hope and Fiction, The Cenacle, etc
He has 30 Pushcart nominations, and five Best of the Net nominations (and one winner) and short story awards from Nazar Look for 2012- 2015. Swan River Daisy, a chapbook, was just released by KY Stories and The Cowboys, a collection of western short stories, is in production at Pocol Press.


Applepine Mountain

At four, near dawn, resident with trees, a mountain’s
wind song, a moon that clashed with clouds perky
as lambs, friends loving behind me though six feet
apart at times, I pissed off the wide porch down into
the unknown, that good talking beer talking good
again, crisply, this way and that, on the quick glass
of leaves. The sound stole, even for a moment, all
the moon and the cool threat of snow.
But at the last shattering of a leaf, at the end of beer
talk, I was the aggregate of selves knowing Apple
Pine Mountain, was constant and one, a kind of
uniform loneliness with stars punching down their
pneumatic cries, the million years of their dying
that one would hear their voices.
Oh, I heard, between trees and close shadow burst,
between the thrills of impulse, between molecules,
the significance of sound. Oh, I listened, my friends,
I listened and grew dizzy because I heard, from stars
by way of clouds, from loam by way of blade and leaf,
from every joint and joist of the cabin, after pissing
off the porch, love.


    A Small Red Star for Me and My Father
This appointment came when light tired, this arrangement, this syzygy
     of him and me and the still threat of a small red star standing
             some time away at my back, deeper than a grain of memory.
I am a quarter mile from him, hard upward on this rugged rock he could
     look up to if only his eyes would agree once more, and it’s a trillion
             years behind my head or a parsec I can’t begin to imagine,
they tell me even dead perhaps, that star. Can this be a true syzygy
     if one is dead, if one is leaning to leave this line of sight
             regardless of age or love or density or how the last piece of light
might be reflected, or refused, if one leaves this imposition? The windows
     of his room defer no light to this night, for it is always night there,
             blood and chemicals at warfare, nerve gone, the main one
providing mirror and lethal lens, back of the eyeball no different
     than out front, but I climb this rock to line up with another rock and him
             in the deep seizure of that stolen room, bare sepulcher,
that grotto of mind.
Today I bathed him, the chest like an old model, boned but collapsible,
     forgotten in a Detroit back room, a shelf, a deep closet, waiting
             to be crushed at the final blow, skin of the organ but a veneer
of fatigue, the arms pried as from a child’s drawing, the one less formidable
     leg, the small testes hanging their forgotten-glove residuum,
             which had begun this syzygy, the face closing down on bone
as if a promise had been made toward an immaculately thin retrieval,
     and, at the other imaginable end of him, the one foot bloody
             from his curse, soured yet holier in mimicry of the near-Christ
(from Golgotha brought down and put to bed, after god and my father
     there are no divinities), toenails coming on a darkness no sky owned,
             foot bottom at its own blood bath, at war, at the final and resolute war
with no winner.
Oh, Christ, he’s had such wars, outer and inner, that even my hand
     in warmth must overcome, and he gums his gums and shakes his head
             and says, sideways, mouth screwed into his outlandish grin,
as much a lie as any look, as devious, cold-fact true, “I used to do this for you,”
     the dark eyes hungry to remember, to bring back one moment
             of all those times to this time; and I cannot feel his hand linger on me,
not its calluses gone the way of flesh or its nails thicker now than they
     ever were meant to be, or skin flaking in the silence of its dust-borne battle,
             though we are both younger than the star that’s behind us
and dead perhaps, as said; then, in a moment, and only for a moment,
     as if all is ciphered for me and cut away, I know the failure
             of that small red star, its distillation and spend still undone,
its yawn red as yet and here with us on the endless line only bent
     by my imagination, the dead and dying taking up both ends of me,
             neither one a shadow yet but all shadows in one, perhaps
a sort of harmless violence sighting here across an endless known.             


Trout Fishing with Rommel’s Last-known Foe

The alders went bare above us, ran blue lightning jagged and ragged
as scars on his arms, the proud chest,  not a welt in the beginning but
Swastika-made, bayonet-gathered somewhere south of France, high-dry Saharan. Leaves, forsaken, set false blasts about limbs; from small explosions came huge expulsions. Frank recalled the remarkable incumbent grace and energy of hand grenades, the godness of them, ethereal, whooshing off to nowhere unless you happened to get in their way, conclusively, incisively. He said, “The taste of shrapnel hangs on like a pewter key you mouthed as a sassy child, a wired can your father drank from which you’d sneak a few deep drafts for yourself in the cellar, nails you mouth-cached, silvered, lead-painted, wetted, iron-on-the-tongue gray-heavy metal you’ve only dreamed of since. Yet, where he’s come to since that eventful sand wasn’t all he knew. On our backs, the bare alder limbs mere antennae in the late afternoon above us, October’s  flies grounded for illustrious moments, the squawking at our trespass merely a handful of crows in their magnificent tree kingdom, he brought home the last of his brothers, goggle-eyed veteran tankers, tinker Tommies under the Union Jack, raw Senegalese old sentries still worry about, dry bodies seventy years under a mummifying sand, perhaps put away forever, and then some.
He thinks old Egypt has a whole new strain of sleepers all these years down the road of their own making, the wrap of sand as good as Tutankhamen had at hand, their khaki blouses coming up a detective’s work, with a special digger’s knowledge, at last citing army, corps, division, regiment, battalion, company, father, brother, son, neighbor, face, eye, lip, hand, soul, out there on the everlasting shift of sand, the stars still falling, angular, apogean, trailing across somewhere a dark night. Here, our worms, second place to uniqueness of fashioned flies, keen hackles, are ready for small orbits, small curves, huge mouths. And his last battle, faded into the high limbs, a flag run up after all this recaptured war, says he knows yet and ever Egypt's two dark eyes.
Frankie's plaque is flat
    in cemetery's clipped green
         soldier still who knows
a volunteer cuts the grass
    for his comrades ranked in rows.

~Tom Sheehan

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