By: Keith Moul
Diana Ipso Facto
Far from soft nights in Rome, prairie pauses
for ritual witness to headlights gleaming back
from dozens of reflectors lining a half mile
of rude driveway: sparkling nymphs to court
Diana’s statue (long erected here), anomalous,
but all feminine with her girlish marble smile.
Highway with prejudice mixes its stale smells
with fragrant ancient myth, when this farmer
hunts totally by her sufferance, though she be
transported to this icy place, so unsuitable to
her tunic’s lacy linen enfolding her stone breast.
White ancestors claimed de facto all lands, all
bodies of water, fauna and flora (unblessed acts)
exposed to punishing cold by rites of ceremony
solemnized by free ambition and one knee down.
The Firing Air
My air on prairie nights contains a fire, a moon-glow
illuminating scars of my losses. As an adult, I accept
this from my family’s long endurance. Fears subside.
Erect, I walk toward threats of barn, furrow and wood,
trailed by my children chasing to wrap around my legs.
One night my dad trod ponderously overhead on the roof.
I was six. He shouted deranged nouns that hammered air;
menacing verbs like crush, beat, crash, pummel, destroy –
then, most quietly, “me” as if shouting an offer of sacrifice.
The tornado bore down without malice toward my father.
He shamed me that night step stooled close to God’s face,
for no real harm was done, family and stock weathering it.
But often later, the land my inheritance, God fired out of air
to terrorize me, my pain a caricature of Laocoön and his sons.
Winter Suggests Bone
Smoke from chimneys alone disturbs freezing peace;
gray sky absorbs smoke as if a vacuum, quick pyrolysis.
Now motion at the side of the road. An elderly man flicks
a cigarette butt to the gravel, winding up his car window
quickly to retain solitary warmth. Every way is shadowy.
Hector is his name, not his game, neither Troy’s hero nor
bully, but facing the prairie, always straining to be sane,
aware that his life will always be bound by these edges:
working hard within a small surround, ever narrowing;
eyes made for intimate scenes of custom; his memories
that abandon hard fact for dream-style trails of ellipsis.
Skin ages in time-lapse, muscle atrophies, suggests bone.