Literary Yard

Search for meaning

By: Wayne F. Burke

J C Penny

“Keep your hands to yourselves,” Grandma
crabs as
we walk down the carpeted aisle.
“Do not touch anything!”

My brother has to touch something
and is slapped
and bawls
and is told to sit
while Grandma picks out clothes
for us to try on, first scrutinizing each price tag,
her mouth down-turned like a horseshoe
in a frown.

We walk before her in revue—
she cannot decide, and
starts to pick at a wart
on her cheek—
pulls a Kleenex from her purse
dabs her eyes
then cleans her

I tell her what to buy
but she does not listen to me, and
turns, instead, to the clerk, a guy
who smirks, in response.

I wander through the
clothes racks
and am called back
and told
“stay put.”

My brother sucks his thumb.

Grandma, before the cash
register, says to the cashier:
“They do not give them away
do they?”

We are carried out by the packages
to the car
a chariot
that returns us home
“at last!” Grandma says.

Emily Dickinson

knew she was headed for
immortality but was not so
sure of eternity, and
never did sign-on to the
Jesus program, remaining
“unsaved” among the
“saved” herd, including the members of her family.
Her love for her sister-in-law Sue
as strong as that
for other of her “angels”
she sent missives to
from the “Homestead,” her father’s house;
the father she obeyed, Who Art At Home
her “Heaven,” central command from
where she sent dispatches from
a puzzling dimension to many of those on the
receiving end, among the ones she loved
with a sticky love hard to
match or evade; she sought reciprocity and
grew lonely when only frost
arrived instead.

On the Roof

Rap rap rap the
roofers rap into
my dreams, their
ladders creaking;
they’re on the
roof of the world
up there: I can
hear their feet
they are closer to
the gods than the
ditch-digger in the
dark chthonian
underworld, though
gods exist there as
well, only not in force
or with the aplomb
of skyward gods in
celestial playground
of fluff and star light.

I Can’t Stand Their Voices

too loud, too much
whining—my hackles rise up
and I cuss them under my
breath, in silent scorn;
but they continue, on an on
even louder, more whiningly
someone give them some cheese
with their whine, please; someone smite them
dumb; cut out their tongues…
I want silence, but, you
know what?
Even the silence bugs me


vein popping out of my arm—
can’t get over it,

after the AA meeting
the moon: lemon wedge
in a dark blue drink

killed a mosquito—
had forgot all of my

glimpse of golden vistas
behind my eyelids
in the sunshine

crickets chirping—
7: 20 p.m. lull
in the traffic


Wayne F. Burke’s poetry has been widely published in print and online (including in THE LITERARY YARD). He is author of 8 full-length poetry collections, one short story collection, and two works of nonfiction (most recently, BUKOWSKI the Ubermensch,, publisher, 2023). He lives in Vermont (USA).

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