Holly Thompson

The Questions of Gunshot Season

Last week I marched my fears out to Jericho
while the walls were still piled high
and the desert blank as a halcyon sky.

Hyenas encroach on the vultures
that feed on the carrion
on the side of cobblestone roads,
their weaponish beaks pecking
until a creature can’t flee anymore;
until they have no legs, no spirits,
no heads.

— and that reminds me of a story that I need to tell you right now:

It’s about a boy who lost his face
to a gunshot, which cracked
in the middle of the night.
The gunshot cracked
because love’s never love if it isn’t cracked;
we leak pain when our spouses become infidels;
and time is a river whose current I am lost in.

These rivers swell, but not with blood,
unless it’s a biblical rain, the kind I dream of,
frequently, harboring feelings for the sun still,
and yet devoting my life to the uphill boulder,
because I am tormented – yes, I am tormented, followed
by the leftovers from the diffusion of a human skull.

Yes, it follows me.
Do You follow me?

I am afraid that I will be lost to the blackening sea of time,
its spreading and staining ink; I am afraid that I will be found
weeping on the side of the highway, thinking that if I could just
get my hands into Creation, I would fix what You could not.

Yes, You.
Were You listening then?
Are You listening now?

A Company Tour

Last I was told there were bones beneath this floor,
but don’t ask me, ask the foreman.
He would be the one who, if asked,
would know the man and his family too.
He would talk to you.

(I think he gets lonely out here,
tell you the truth.
Did you know those hands
are the reason
this plant
is still standing?)

No, it wouldn’t surprise me too much
if there were ghosts in the place.
All this is toxic and to get too close to it is,
(whether you do it spiritually or what),
to get too close is to welcome
that you stand by yourself, really,
that you would no longer get the camaraderie
of standing next to what amounted,
I suppose, to our hosts of this briefest of lives:
The people from whom you refresh your drinks
and ask for directions to the restroom.

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