Saturday, April 13, 2013

Three Poems by Dana Yost

The Lonely Stalk Their Front-Room Windows at Night

The lonely stalk their front-room windows at night,
watching snowflakes fall in streetlight shadows,
silent, a robe over their shoulders,
rolling prayers and pleas through the folds of their minds,
standing until weary legs say “please, please.”
Eventually day, night, light, dark become the same,
days are lost, holidays missed,
the front-room window a smear of old dreams,
vanished conversation.
Even the feral cats slash by,
indifferent to the fingertip tap on the glass,
pausing only to piss yellow
into the cold white snow.

Chopper Down

There was a white ribbon tied to the front door of his home,
and extra prayers said for him in church on Sunday.
They were expecting a large crowd for the funeral,
and there was talk about how helpful, caring he was.
It’s all meant to bolster us, to bring solace to the wife,
and maybe it will.
But I heard someone say, “I am at a complete loss.
“I don’t know what to do. I haven’t done a thing all day.”
This is the truth, and this is the thing:
you can distract us from our grief,
you can join in our grief,
you can console us from our grief.
But you cannot erase our grief.
I’ve seen it too often — the early support,
the lauding of deed and spirit,
then the moving on,
leaving the grieving to bear weight
like an anvil, dark, heavy and hurting.

In this case, a medical helicopter crashes in a plowed-up cornfield.
Three dead.
It’s the suddenness,
the violent picture of a chopper’s twisted, charred hull,
the wondering: did they suffer, did they go fast?
It’s the left-behind,
widows and children,
colleagues and friends,
the ones getting night-time phone calls,
then stumbling, staggering,
buckling into tear.
We give them advice,
we give them hope,
we give them stories of good deed.
But it’s still death,
still the ripping away of lives that mattered.
Someone will thrust steel crosses into the earth
near the corn field,
someone will design plaques with the names of the dead,
someone will light candles the day of the funeral,
and whisper the names.

It may help.
It may heal.
But even if I bring the widow a week’s worth of food,
offer to wash the laundry, shovel the walk,
it will still be death when I am done:
and the widow will wake some mornings,
grabbing at pillows and closet doors,
picture frames and his slippers, still left in the closet.
She will do all this, then toss a hard question to God,
and shut out the light of the day.
Someone will light candles,
but she will only see what moves between the flicker of flames:
shadows and darkness,
places to become lost.

Click, click, click

The gun man
then retreats
to the capes
and masks
of fantasy,
to know
that the red
being sopped
by the mourning
is not
leaked from a prop bag,
not spilled
for the gun man’s
and exploitative
but for no reason,
because a wheel
click-stopped its random
spin upon a word:
& death.
And death
is real
and it has a sound:
the same sound
as the gunman’s
because lies
become death,
and death has a sound.

Dana Yost is the author of three published books, 2008's Grace, 2010's The Right Place and 2012's A Higher Level: Southwest State Women's Tennis 1979-1992. He was an award-winning daily newspaper editor and writer for 29 years until 2008. A Pushcart Prize nominee for poetry in 2012, his poems have appeared in many journals and magazines, including Pyrokinection and Jellyfish Whispers. He also has written guest blogs for websites of the nationally known blogger and editor Holly Michael and for the author Marianne Zarzana. His poem "Slaughterhouse," originally published in Pyrokinection, has been chosen for publication in Best of 2012 Anthology, Storm Cycle. He lives in Forest City, Iowa.

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