r.t. castleberry, two poems

death in the conversation

Three of us stand in street corner rain,
kicking at a glass crucifix, savaged in the grass.
You and I pile colored pieces for collage.
Molly bears the stigma of coincidental cuts.
A shirt tail preacher binds his wounds,
clutching a Circe pennant, bullhorn
and Living Bible at his feet.
Soldiers on cell phones
laugh in the park, crossing against the light.
“Something always breaks,” you say.
I bow to the sentiment, “It’s the gift I own.”
A pride of black cats settles
on a storefront stoop.

As we enter the basement bar,
a war song punches through the chatter,
emblem white and blue of the Resistance.
They sing Death like a football cheer.
“I’ll buy one round but I won’t buy more.
The Capricorn heart will stop if I do.”
My messenger bag is weighted with
Zorro’s mask, a list of Jefferson’s lies,
a signed copy of Steal This Book.
Molly’s carries a decoy whistle,
essays from Orwell, Pollitt and Paine.
Yours rattles with sketch pad and pencils,
Bowie knife and Beretta.

After closing,
air raid lights search sky and building.
I’ve memorized addresses
for safe houses, arms depots.
Molly takes first watch.
Laptops charge. A rifle leans
beneath a Miro calendar,
between two easels.
We’ve shared a bed for years.
If the magistrates permit,
we’ll marry in the spring.

the moon reminds

I walk a muddy street,
boot tread impressions
brutal, random in February stealth.
Sliver of a moon dices
high fog, pitching oak limbs.
A north wind chills footsteps,
exposed layers of sweatshirt and sweater
beneath a borrowed bomber jacket.
Pausing for the parking turn of a car,
I shrug a shivering laugh, remembering
Mother’s stories of collision death or kidnap.
At the apartment door
I step back to the sidewalk, that cold tunnel,
center my eyes on Jupiter, waiting for Saturn.
By the news–mechanics made right,
we’ll return to the moon.

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