by R. T. Castleberry
“TO BEAUTY, UNFAMILIAR”
On smoke-drift Sundays,
wintry morning winds,
the amused allure of dead romance
wrings wry couplets,
astringent rules of discourse.
Both sides rescued from
the trap of the average,
I settle into solitude.
They leave for other states,
take bed sheets, furniture,
leather jackets on loan
for movie chill.
Sunrise brings sirens,
fire and freeway fatality.
Blood is in the air—
princes, actors dead in their years.
I make sharp notice of
brute signals towards breakup.
The wearing, dire drain of
office fucks, midnight drinking,
bitch and bastard slams
collapses seething into dissolution.
Divorced, single or single mom,
we call it a long day after two years,
delete, block and unFriend.
She gets the pets, the Black Tears rum,
the art festival poster.
Birthday gifts, personal photos,
some dangerous memories
remain with me.
Ambivalence and longing tease weary days.
I’ll have tenth year regrets
when rumors reach me,
as graceless habits persist.
“LEAVING THE WAR”
Almost winter in this militant time,
mountain passes are locked as strongholds.
A directory of shamans consulted,
incantations have lifted a siege.
A peace conference is ongoing.
Twice weekly, gates open.
Soldiers stack their weapons beside the road
to dance with tradesmen’s daughters,
schoolteachers, grass widows.
The sophisticated—or less naïve,
know a love affair may work around
unbuttoned coats, pocket-warmed hands.
Our cloudy afternoon turns to dusk,
dim to dimmer light.
Possessed by votive candle,
lantern’s hanging glow,
we whisper praises together,
strains of adulation within
timber ruins of a bell tower.
With flights to welcoming hospitals,
medevac helicopters pass overhead,
shine a glancing beam on pale limbs,
dark hair falling past your shoulders.
Blankets folded, bota bag
plump with chardonnay,
we slice apples, manchego, sausage
to share, to carry forward.
dogs roam peddler streets,
nose overgrown gardens.
We won’t marry. I won’t leave.
R.T. Castleberry’s work has appeared in Blue Collar Review, K’in, Pedestal Magazine, Misfit, Trajectory, The Alembic and Switchback as well as many anthologies. Internationally, it has been published in Canada, Great Britain, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, New Zealand, Portugal. the Philippines and Antarctica.