poetry  5

 

A SKULL SESSION

    by John Lambremont


The dog tags told me what it was
before it touched my hand,
taken from a folded plastic bag,
a chunk of a jet pilot's skull plate,
a curved human coconut shell,
once-black hair a green patina
that crumbled at the touch.

 

He'd brought them back from a trip back home,
taken from wreckage hidden deep

in a Quang Tri mountain ravine

undiscovered for years after the war,
hidden for a decade,
until his return.

 

He asked me what he could do with them,

perhaps a grateful America would bring across
his brother and nephew and niece,
or maybe there was a cash reward,
but he knew if the feds in Ha Noi
or their goons in Sai Gon found out about
what his family had kept in secret,
they'd face prison or death or worse.

 

Turning the skull-piece over in my hand,

my thoughts went out to the M.I.A.'s family,

their not knowing his fate

during the intervening score,
but my duty was to my client, so I
keep his decision buried deep
in this aging skull of mine.

 

 

THE CARETAKER (an acrostic)

 

 

Brother B. does right by his sad saffron ladies,

Under his spell, they give him all that they've made;

Muzzling his love into each golden ear,

Bread money gathered from their musky labor,

Lip service gives he to their wan complaints.

Each encounter ends with a whispered threat, as his

Blazer's sulfur sash boldly signifies his tribe; and

Even though he has another bouquet across town,

Early in the evening, once again, he'll make his rounds.
 
Bio: John Lambremont, Sr. is a poet living in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife, their fat gray tabby cat, and their Jack Russell terrier runt. His poems have appeared in over twenty literary reviews and journals, including Red River Review, A Hudson View (2009 Pushcart Prize nomination), Boston Literary Magazine, Taj Mahal Review, and Lilliput Review." 

 

 

Collections

    

          by  Brandon Williams

 

 

I collect sleep like coins,

tiny thefts

of minutes earned

by stooping low

while others scurry past.

 

Ten minutes at break,

curled between the boxes

on the conveyer belt,

five minutes before class starts,

thirty seconds while the professor

scratches, blinks, looks for his papers,

says hello, clears his throat,

wipes off the blackboard and says,

“All right, let’s begin,” then

another three minutes

while he takes roll.

 

Like coins, these few minutes

slosh into an old pickle jar

that still smells slightly of brine.

When I take the coins to the corner

of Iowa and Blaine, to the trailer

with the green earth symbol

and the business mind,

that extra thirty or forty dollars a month

promises cheese on my sandwiches

and ketchup on my eggs.

When I open the other pickle jar,

the metaphorical one, at ten o’clock,

that extra thirty or forty minutes

promises that I will awaken at two-thirty,

if not exactly refreshed,

at least ready to steal

enough time to make it through tomorrow.

 

Bio: Brandon Williams is a graduate of the University of California, Riverside.  He's been published in journals such as The Rattlesnake Review, Fewer Than 500, American Pressings, CommonLine, Milk Money, Words-Myth, ken*again, and Scawy Monstur.   He's a firm believer in down-home country music and is probably almost certainly a strict constitutionalist.