Sunday, February 12, 2012

What The Dead Know by Stephen De France


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The dead hide in suburban vehicles,
electrified hair & purple ponytails.
Behind darkened windows dead children scream.

The dead patrol local strip malls, bump over
curbs, run old folks from crosswalks, clip
fenders, as minds reflexively gag
over their useless day of dead work.

Tentacles from searchlights
extend into cosmic darkness,
dead cow flesh burns
in fast food pit stops,
a kind of cosmetic death hangs suspended
in our grease smeared canopy of sky.

Old & young dead alike---waddle wide
into Big Buns Food Barn
& like killer whales in bloodied water
these ponderous leviathans hunt & gather
27 kinds of sugar, 11 kinds of lard
51 varieties of cheese from France
& a hundred and one pounds of prime pork.

The dead deny renewal from the sea,
reject icy breath from the stream,
dismiss the life force from the desert sun,
reject the sentimental shade of oak trees,
they never follow twisting rivers,
never chance life
in a single desperate gamble,
never make a lonely midnight
call from Yuma,
never hear a hundred good byes
from ghostly lovers,
never shake in their own puke
on the tiled bathroom floor,
never love
because the dead fear all life.

The dead only know what the dead know,
they meet at desolate corners
& reiterate dead things.
Children of the dead
roll on a patch of synthetic grass,
as their parents
sit on the front porch with a martini
admiring their families’
inherited bovine resemblances.
They share brochures
with each other from Forest Lawn,
pictures showing that their Crosses are already laid out,
Graves dug.

Husbands of the dead---men in greasy jeans,
oil rags hanging, smile foolishly
their minds numb and spirits broken,
they are deeply perplexed,
and for clarification
they throw tools at one another---
swear & drain oil from
their trucks.




Steve De France is a widely published poet, playwright and essayist both in America and in Great Britain. His work has appeared in literary publications in America, England, Canada, France, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, India, Australia, and New Zealand. He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize in Poetry in both 2002, 2003 & 2006. Recently, his work has appeared in The Wallace Stevens Journal, The Mid-American Poetry Review, Ambit, Atlantic, Clean Sheets, Poetry Bay, The Yellow Medicine Review and The Sun. In England he won a Reader's Award in Orbis Magazine for his poem "Hawks." In the United States he won the Josh Samuels' Annual Poetry Competition (2003) for his poem: "The Man Who Loved Mermaids." His play THE KILLER had it's world premier at the GARAGE THEATRE in Long Beach, California (Sept-October 2006). He has received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Chapman University for his writing. Most recently his poem "Gregor's Wings" has been nominated for The Best of The Net by Poetic Diversity.

Street art by DLG.
Photo by Adam Lawrence.

Shakey Graves is a lo-fi troubadour from Austin, TX. Find more music from him at his bandcamp page.

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