Literary Yard

Search for meaning

‘Distant is the morning’ and other poems

By: R.T. Castleberry

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Rain dries on a windy street.
Heron skulks the horizon.
Never trust a Capricorn’s word
until you know how it falls to his favor.
Leaves pile before me in skittering sweeps.
Desert dust scrapes
cirrus crystals from the sky,
drains celebration Spring to drudgery.
Beggar’s coins accumulate in my pocket,
like sirens at a fire.
Before I sleep, I worry at
another illness collapse.
When I dream, it’s of dirty water
rising beneath the door,
dirty shirt cuffs extended for arrest.



Argument is a rite,
a reflexive ritual, offerings
from a 21st Century mouth.
I remember a woman’s quote
as the point of a hard answer.
Specifics outlined,
suffering as context,
the crushed stand bared
like prisoners waiting the lash,
choices branded on their bottom lip.

Teaching cruelty,
I hear my wife’s sulky parallels
between teething cries and
games of war service.
Mangled country martyrs,
distorting terror of her trauma
survive as patterns,
a last fight over night fears.
“Yours now,” she says,
turning the kids over for the weekend.

My bitter friend turns his best mind to
stories for wine parties and complaints,
practiced retorts for
landlord, faithless partner.
Weary of grievance, garish revenge plays,
I add myself to the conspirator’s list.
Refusing abuse and Beaujolais,
I wave him towards the door,
willing blessings and serenity on
his first step to the corner curb.

Mostly sleeping, I wake
from fights with a dead brother,
ex-girlfriends who’d “like a word.”
I take some minor pleasure
in denial of outrageous favor.
regret’s backwards glance.
Neatly a parody of living conversation–
slashing lines, wilting anger,
lasting days of irresolution,
I come to morning in a fury.



The wind dies. Pines spike
cloud bands of white, deep azure blue.
Twilight gazing the hill’s horizon,
I slow my walking, consider
tracts of winter-lit forest,
unsettled drifts of dry leaves, randomness
of bird calls lacing phone line and fence.
I long for September rebirth,
hiker’s call to a border collie.
I snap a cigarette pack
against my palm, light a Viceroy.
Smoke lifts, I watch
across the waste of heritage land
as a burn-off shears a distant valley.
Past the stake of a Sale sign,
a realtor sits patiently, covetous,
with contract and a certified check.



Under the monthly arc
of an ocean moon,
ghost sirens of failing ships,
I don’t sleep well on this island.
Weaving room to room,
I read 2 books at a time,
subjects: the outcast comic,
assassinations in Rome, 1932.
Wasting hours, I treat time
with crawls through email,
cynical sniping online.
At my desk making a list, it seems
I’ve missed or lost or tossed
items I’ll need.
Salt wind lifts the curtains
at an open window.
Ten o’clock becomes four a.m.,
becomes burdens snared like
wreckage against a reef,
blot of ashes returning on the waves.


R.T. Castleberry, a Pushcart Prize nominee, has work in Steam Ticket, Vita Brevis, As It Ought To Be, Trajectory, Silk Road, StepAway, and Literary Yard. Internationally, he’s had poetry published in Canada, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, France, New Zealand, Portugal, the Philippines and Antarctica. His poetry has appeared in the anthologies: Travois-An Anthology of Texas Poetry, TimeSlice, Anthem: A Tribute to Leonard Cohen, and Level Land: Poetry For and About the I35 Corridor.

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