EXPANSIVE POETRY ONLINE
A Journal of Contemporary Arts 

 

poems

by
 

CHARLES SOUTHERLAND
____________

 

TEARING UP THE CLOUD COVERED GROUND

In times to come, the rest of you will know
The secret lives of men who barely are—
And others scattered through its strands where woe
Is commonplace and misery not far
Removed from losers and their memories
For death to bury deep enough, to quiet
A single solitary ghost or ease
A conscience tortured by a scythe in riot.
I am a ghoul, if nothing else, these days.
I’m not afraid of death or life or pain
That I have caused or will; I know the ways
To torment those who live for their own gain.
And in this knowledge, some will rue the sun
That came upon their corpses. I am the one
.

 

 

 

THE REVIVALIST
      For Pastor Bob Lamb (long retired)

      He was a Lamb before the wolves
      Madisonville, KY circa 1973

That Bob was just a country preacher, riled
Some folks throughout the charismatic realm.
He didn’t speak in tongues, nor had he piled
His pulpit with the prayer cloths at the helm
Of his right doctrine: faith in Christ alone—
No works or water, handling snakes or vials
Of deadly poison to regale, no Joan-
Of Arc or other saintly figures, trials
By fire or deprivation, some trite vow
Or healing ceremony, spirit-slain
And falling backwards, always backwards, now.
Amen’s were fine, and hallelujahs reign!
His sovereign God would choose the flock to save.
The rest of them could go to hell and rave.

 

THE RUBE

He brings a certain rustic savoir faire
To town. He’s learned the ways of dilettantes
By watching online videos. His hair
Is parted properly. He uses fonts
Like: Mistral, Leelawadee, Moolboran
For writing poetry on napkins while
He’s having dinner at the Kazakhstan
*All you can eat* buffet house—crocodile,
The Special, Friday night until they’re out,
With chocolate mousse dessert the featured sweet.
He gives a lecture reaching men about
The raccoon hunter’s U.K.C. elite,
On how to tell the difference when a dog
Lies on the tree, and getting lost in fog.

 

 

 

 

Godzilla And The Loose Damsel
       
Get It On In Viola, Arkansas

I watch two lizards mating on a stack
Of hawthorn sticks with both their tails askew,
Entwined, & he is mounted on her back
Unmoved; he’s early though and whoops, the screw
Goes wryly wrong. He’s not monogamous;
Another’s caught his eye. He’s just a guy
With syndrome issues much like all of us
Without, and so he sticks it to the fly.
And after lunch, he chases down the one
Who’s dressed in pretty stripes, in gaudy garb
In hopes that this erection is more fun
And lasts a little longer with his barb.
It’s getting dark and Venus’ rising light
Gives way to Mars who finally gets it right.

 

 

Losing It

I’ve tried to rid myself of all the stuff,
some nearly worthless things, some others not.
The values change, keep changing, and it’s tough
deciding what to keep or throw, the pot
enameled, chipped, a hole down low inside
—a planter, maybe, filled with dirt, posies
sprouting, or a target; I can’t decide,
though shooting at it soothes my neuroses.
The house has paths that you might just avoid.
From room to room and from floor to ceiling
are stacks of things that you and I enjoyed-
Pink Floyd, and others; That Lovin’ Feeling…
Don’t judge me for living in a hovel.
When I die you’re gonna’ need my shovel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BODY LANGUAGE

 

Your shoulders sag and stumble when she falls
down sick, unlike a manufactured shrug
indifferent to diffidence and calls
from relatives removed from cancer’s lug.
Reflexively, your taste goes dry. You chug
an overpriced unsweetened drink and wait
for diagnosis and the stage the bug
has taken in her—they can’t operate.
You don’t believe in God, but even fate
can’t keep you from the chapel or your knees
when you go bargaining—where you equate
your jargon with a prayer while begging, please.
Your odds are much like hers, and in the red,
your eyes reveal your soul and where it’s led. 

 

 

 

 

GRIMM'S TWISTED BLIZZARD

 

When you professed your love there in the road
to me, I found it was the strangest place.
Too late, I saw the sign that I’d been snowed

and when the plow came through to spread its load
of salt, it flattened me without a trace
when you professed your love there in the road.

Well, I’d been trucked before. I had the mode
down pat, and yeah, I’d melted down, my face
too late to see the sign that I’d been snowed,

but when it hit me, I was ready, owed
myself the pain of being flung through space
when you professed your love there in the road.

How did it miss you?, love, I mean—unload
itself of savor? I don’t get it, Lace.
Too late I saw the sign. That I’d been snowed

was not in question, knowing that a toad
cannot with kisses make a prince’s case.
When you professed your love there in the road,
too late I saw the sign that I’d been snowed.

 

 

               

 

 

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