Clif Mason

Originally published in The Evergreen Review Issue 112 in 2007.

For centuries we seeded the cemeteries.
So it was no surprise the soil
grew nothing but headstones.
Our hands held bleak acres of newsprint,
black bouquets of tortures and rapes,
and rapes as the instrument of torture.
Now time runs back into the machinery
of stars, eats itself like words dissolving
under the steady force of a delete key.
Now everything dies before it can occur.
No one laughs for fear of sanctioning
the sun’s red bowl of hydrogen,
the incendiary bubble boiling,
blowing a typhoon of horses
and white flames, scalding and scarifying,
until passion’s scarred arteries
become the cracked old crockery
of long-dead riverbeds.
In the lunar eclipse,
a murder was committed.
The murderer was unaware he was blind,
his eyes black as blasted lakes.
He was unaware that each new street
he walked was a grave.
Black sledges brought the dead
across the white wastes.
A lone voice keened like a lantern.
The air was full of harsh smoke,
I placed half dollars on the victim’s
staring eyes to calm the river’s
roiling waters, black as oil sludge,
that the betrayed might cross to peace.
We disrobed for the last time,
stepped out of cold skins,
and became the last light
disappearing in the river's current.