Re-published poems from Jack B. Bedell

photo from cemetery in Slidell, LA (unsplash)

all poems first published in Rhythm N Bones Lit/Dark Marrow

P.V. O’Neill’s Grave

An oak tree has left its ghost
        on this plot with crumbled
                      marble and mangled wrought iron

bent all around the tombstone.
         The psalm engraved below
                       O'Neill's name failed

to offer any peace against
         the weight of that trunk
                       calm breeze and cool water

or not. Today, the grass is cut tight
         at the site, and all the bits of stone
                     have been stacked neatly

inside what remains of the fence.
       No roots left from the falling, though,
                      and even fewer signs it matters.

Q&A

You'd probably chuckle to know I pass
your grave every morning bringing my kids
to school. They've asked all the questions
their teachers have told them to ask,
and I've answered as best I could:

Did he want to die?

                              Probably, but not
that night, and not in his parent's house.

How did it happen?
                                  From the beginning?
Coltrane, Hendrix, the dude from Blind Melon.
They were all beautiful to him. Release.
A slowing of heart. Sleep. Stop.

What was it like?
                                    He always said
it was like swimming in honey.

Why would he do something that made him
sick every time he did it?
                                       The other side
of sickness or pain is heaven, and that
lasts much longer than it takes
to empty your stomach.

Do you miss him?
                                 I miss the way his pick hand
moved so casually over the strings of his bass,
how perfectly his thumb glided
down the neck of his guitar. His
potato rolls, the glaze he made for pastries.

Why couldn't you stop him?
                                 I held him
like a brother, threw him against the wall
by his collar like a parent, set him free
to make his own choices like God does.
That river only flows downhill.

What do you remember most about the last time you saw him?

This one I always have trouble answering out loud,
how your stubble felt like needles on my cheek.

The Pale Man's Eyes Never Leave the Horizon
                                                                             - Lake Champlain

When a wave rolls up out of nowhere,
do not look down. It is my body
shifting under the surface.

I will be there in the shallows
to hear the people of the woods
warn you not to disturb me.

My eyes, the size of white perch,
will roll back into their sockets
at the sound of your laughter.

Whenever your children come to the shore
aching to disappear into my calm lake,
I will grab them by their ankles,

draw them into the deep water
with their last breaths still captive
in their lungs. For each beating heart

I devour, each of your barges
full of tree trunks I sink,  you
will cry a slow prayer toward

the dying light.  There is no lesson
in this pain for you, no
road you can build long enough

to escape my reach, the teeth
I sharpen each night, waiting
for the crunch of bones you are. 

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Jack B. Bedell

https://jackbbedell.com/


%d bloggers like this: