Eulogy is an Indigo Sheep is a Shriek is a Nite Crawler
At the grave,
the wind was warm. A coffin got winched into its trench.
Soon would come dusk, and the groan of a backhoe.
“We were hoping you might say a few?” Devan’s little brother Tim said to Uncle Lem, who
was eighty six, with one withered claw and half wishing to be down there too. “Me?… ah hell son leave it be …” Yet looking around at the faces of the few mourners, he knew the real numb in this wake wouldn’t come from a simple warm wind, or tree limbs waving like feeling, like conductors’ wands: his nephew was dead; yes, it fell on him, instead: “Well alright then,” said Lem, “Devan he…well, you all … know? He had his demons, but some kind of a soul too. Kind, I mean… a man. You all… he told me… ahem… told me once, he craved the smell of paving tar… on account he said it reminded him of other lives.”
A sob rose up, from somewhere sixty yards east: it sounded like a jilted lover, hard duty, or a bad streetcar.
“A lot of love in him,” said Lem, “when he wasn’t high…”
That sob from nearby, it stilled the warm wind for the eighteenth of a second it took to die.
“But it’s no secret I didn’t like him for some of the things he…well, you all … I don’t know…”
Lem waved at the sky: “I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know…”
The wind, swallowing the rest of what he said, and couldn’t, a simple translation for the sobbing, and the dead. And Lemuel, weeping like a spring by then, was a surprise not the least to himself as the light up there, cut by leaf smoke at horizon’s rim; a backhoe’s roar, warm,
A claw pitched forth
and the earth poured in.
Aubergine Was Snail’s Blood Before Parmesan
Oh Abalone, he lightened his load to come out of that shell.
Then got to feeling … better, and maybe… well, for a while, been some scene
down at Wal Mart stacking the Corning Ware plates of Kelly
green, click, click, into the cart for the pot luck.
For any kind of luck, really.
Then Abalone hits me up, on Facebook Chat,
open invitation to the shore … says look man, when you be
down ? Poor Abalone, I can hear his heart, his rant, opening credits narration
for Outer Limits, packing light for the in flight, concentric layers like
onion control the vertical. Thanksgiving in a ward of some sort; lads, loads
of crab cracking up; and his insistence of a proper mode of pronunciation:
“Look, not A Baloney, man … okay ? It’s Abalone … not like Brian Dennehy,
but Sly Stallone. Like all alone, do you get it? Alone, alone, alone … got it? … ”
Carry on, and wonder if he still wears those eggplant-colored cut offs, so tight,
canvas straps, no socks, greasy Google glasses and floppy Birkenstocks ?
Lemoneffervescent pomade, duck brim, so easy
for him, I suppose, to spit in the face of change, yet time will, yes time
will out … it will, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes … Happy trails, Ab.
Alone. Got a fishing shack up in Bangor, crawling with and always
within his corkscrew, oh ice auger and melted butter perpetual …
Hasn’t been laid in nigh unto two or three decades.
This life will put a sweet hurt
on your ass.
DENNIS MAHAGIN’s poems have appeared in Evergreen Review, Absinthe Literary Review, Exquisite Corpse, Everyday Genius, elimae, The Nervous Breakdown, Corium, Stirring, Juked, and Night Train. His latest poetry collection is called Longshot & Ghazal, available now from Mojave River Press.