Tom Sheehan: Two Poems
Burial for Horsemen | From Nahant, Atlantic Rub, Pacific Skip
Burial for Horsemen
For my father, blind too early
The night we listened to an Oglala life
on records, and shadows remembered
their routes up the railed stairway like
a prairie presence, I stood at your bed
counting the days you had conquered.
The bottlecap moon clattered into your
room in vagrant pieces ... jagged blades
needing a strop or wheel for stabbing,
great spearhead chips pale in falling,
necks of smashed jars rasbora bright,
thin flaked edges tossing off the sun.
Under burden of the dread collection,
you sighed and turned in quilted repose
and rolled your hand in mine, searching
for lighting only found in your memory.
In moon’s toss I saw the network of your
brain struggling for my face the way you
last saw it, a piece of light falling under
the hooves of a thousand horse ponies,
night campsites riding upward in flames,
the skyline legendary.
From Nahant, Atlantic Rub, Pacific Skip
For hours he’d been
diving for God knows what, a ballistic bursting air
each time he came up fanning for life, amateur at
what I was good at, surviving, reaching under all
of Neptune it seems.
He brought up a stone, gray,
smooth as the millennium, travel yet indelible, still
worth rubbing, he said when asked. Then, For what?
To August sun he marked it, aloft, victor’s clutch,
For the Pacific, he said.
Promising to write, he left,
the stone under denim underway. And this he says:
I did the lakes, the Nations, the high grass for miles,
dry lands, Badlands, the Parks burning for weeks,
climbing into Idaho’s shadows.
Now, mosquito-ravaged, money gone, tired of the weight
of it all, I have flung it into Alaska’s Pacific, rubbed it
one last time for you, that Atlantic charm, drowned it
in water it knew
just ten million years ago before I
came along, Owen McReigghily, biker, Christ-bearded
my own descriptor, who pays no taxes, lives no place
but arbor, dry culvert, waddies back where mountains
I’ve done my passage here, freed
Nahant Atlantic’s stone to taste new salt. Something
will touch it yet, shape it, clutch the warmth of
my hands where I rubbed in time,
grind it for stars not yet begun.
Tom Sheehan's fourth book of poetry, This Rare Earth & Other Flights, was recently released by Lit Pot Press. His third novel, Death for the Phantom Receiver, an NFL mystery, is forthcoming from Publish America.