Andrew Lefleche: Poetry : June 2019

Southern Legitimacy Statement: My wife was born in Little Rock, AR. We’ve made our home there for the past two years.

Three Poems

she stands
in the upstairs window
framed in stone
choker chain around her neck
stares across the water
over the rolling knoll
through the forest skyline
and steps with the setting sun
to become a shadow
in the disappearing past
not quite nicotine stained
only the colour now faded
from when they were painted
forty years ago
atop worn tiled stairs
dotted with spilt red wine
i climb each night after dark
with my glass
maybe i should go to bed
at least the thought manifests
briefly, before pouring another
in my apartment
music turned low or off
to hear the wind outside strike
the drafty single pane windows
all four of them
lips chapped crusted purple
face worn like an old mitt
maybe i should slow down
or keep going
one month, two months
three months since she left
and each first i tell myself
time to shape up
it’s the ninth this morning
or the night of the eighth
depending how days are counted
thursday still
refill the cabernet glass
watch the legs spider down
in the translucent shadow
of a tear’s heartbeat
if only she could see me now
right? lose my shit tomorrow
today is no day to fall apart
begin again
that’s how progress is made
get to work, keep working
don’t stop till the job is done
the bottle is empty
continue with gin that is dry
junipers are less contemptuous
or so i was told once
before, when i believed
fall asleep
cigarette in hand
wake up with a burn under lip
and a hole in the carpet
disappointed, not for
the face i can’t shave
the litre and a half of wine
the liquor or the deposit
disappointed i woke at all
feeling worse than shame
survive the day and do it again
inside these blanch yellow walls
away from a place I returned a ghost
and found solace under an unmarred sky
and a refuge behind the river’s moat
and embrace in the warmth of illusion
to burn bright was reasoned a virtue once
now rising above will put you to shame
at home among these ever-reaching pines
looking up at a past that greets below
as the sun drains the sky of its colours
the first stars pebble the blue of tonight
a life refined by continuing loss
preserved in polished concrete on white stone
I am alone here, near the edge of flame–at the edge of night
the fire speaking memories thought lost
each burst of pine burning to spark away
to a time before wishing needed stars
a time when we could have been anything
before accepting dreams were only so
the leaves fall silent to crack under foot
and a wolf howls up at the rising moon
and the fire’s murmur is silenced briefly
and the honesty of existing fails
confused though intrigued by indifference
challenging the addiction to be right
the fading light questions being alone
is this defeat or a gentle repose?
the fire wants, craves, needs, requires, demands
“look, here is my finger on your pained past”
there is only shame if you feel ashamed
the courage to continue is what counts
if I could lie to the advancing flame
I’d tell her, “I’m only here for retreat”
and she would return a scolding reproach
“excuses become the lies we believe”
lucky are those who die mid-infancy
better even to have never been born
the water laps at the edge of river–at the edge of night
and in the black, something breaks the surface
and splashes to ripple its re-entry
and begs the mirror of flame, “continue”
go all the way kid, success is in reach
you simply must endure the pommeling
the perimeter of flickering glow
stays the predators temporarily
prolongs the inevitable demise
taunts in twelve pairs of wanting yellow eyes
the things I went for in the beginning
cost too much, bruised my face, left me threadbare
the wind carries pain in the memories
the price of remembering what’s now past
‘till I’m begging the edge of night for day
while the dim eye pairs hope I remain lost