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Stephen Mead Poet
by Stephen Mead
To rip the stars out of yourself
you must first become sky, a horizon with tugboats,
foghorns blasting underneath. How, though dulling sight,
mist amplifies everything. Poke it, a piñata, you pierce your own flesh,
shower panes, cut crystal, a tinkling crescendo.
Swirl, retrieve all. After this, feeling is easy.
Black lake, paddle boats, the foot bridge silhouetted,
an elegance crossing over as mist slowly blots,
mist taking the waves, the small shores,
the surrounding woods into a Chinese scrim,
its dogwood images in ink, hand-painted,
& the liquid of all of this, the fluidity being
damp London rooks lifting from the gray,
the nostalgic brown, the stark branches…
Here happiness comes upon me,
happiness as childhood travels, adolescence prolonged
over soggy fields, hills, grass blades, all a twisting
vine of half-winter, half-spring before the boundaries
of parks, undesignated, nature preserves, nature stakes
claim in with every crooked creek a jagged ribbon
Cool tributaries swollen with thaw, my veins are
the life blood of some legacy’s landscape bequeathed fresh
from my parents for, god, how I love, taste
all this old agelessness calling us spirituous as we shift,
dissipative, return true again surely as this great lace of air,
air everywhere, holding us out, in, out, in, out, in.
Rooms return you, rooms, the cafe, hallways, memories in a flood of flickers & you, suddenly back, Jack-lovely in this destiny pack.
I hold the cards still & you are not missing any more than a cloud floating from my gaze to trace the entire sky.
Maybe heaven really is so planetary & global with you one of the stars over a very private sleep.
From dreams I wake wondering if you’ve been here & I slept too sound except your gone face shows up, intensifying the lack.
I make coffee, smoke a cig, & divine your life in mine yet heart by heart, the flow of rooms, hallways, walks, those paths that crossed to last beyond the knowing of my time or your’s.
We’re a Little Nervous
Lighting a firecracker with a cigarette – pops, pops
all around the picnic table, old knots blown smoky—–
Watch the wood fly. Count your fingers. Check
your hearing. Dad’s reliving a ten-year-old’s Fourth:
gun powder, gun powder, a Western shoot-out
in his hands.
No wonder the dog’s hiding & mom went in the house.
Listen, I’m trying to keep my eyes open.
Whose turn is it? Uh huh, uh huh. Give me that thing.
Don’t go ’til just before the moment – come on, come on –
This time let dad sweat a bit.
Now comes lightning, hours later, a storm watch incarnate:
winds slamming doors, toppling plants, hard rain sheeting
the screens, the too-long heat wave & fireworks gone to ash.
Dad’s pacing somewhere. Mom’s wishing she didn’t quit
Virginia Slims. Leagues away, here I am, sound-wired
& wondering where is the cat. Flash. Bang. Crackle.
Damn that animal—–
Any candles? A flashlight?
The tempest rumbles crash.
This umbrella’s got a metal tip.
These loafers aren’t leather.
Hell, Zachary, where are you?
Coffee in a slick fist, gas for the search party—
I breathe fire, wet silver, yellow gasp
showing sea-blue depths, & I think of Hitchcock,
& I think of warfare, & I think of the dread-laced thrill
of a cracker, little soldier, combusting sparks
in fingers just ten years here on earth.
Stephen Mead is an Outsider multi-media artist and writer. Since the 1990s he’s been grateful to many editors for publishing his work in print zines and eventually online. He is also grateful to have managed to keep various day jobs for the Health Insurance. Currently he is resident artist/curator for The Chroma Museum (The Chroma Museum), artistic renderings of LGBTQI historical figures, organizations and allies predominantly before Stonewall.