Mark Jackley

MJ

TO DUNCAN, WHO WORKS IN A HOSPICE

 

Suddenly your Facebook posts are lit up like the teachings
of Saint Francis or a birthday card from a four-year-old:
“I thought I’d post this song for my beautiful son Phillip,
on account he is an Arlo fan and a blessing,” words
clear as rain, which up till now required beer and speed,
gentle words, unlike the ones I’m tempted to unleash
on my neighbor Yar (Ray backwards, after a family
friend) who on this sunny morning cranks his favorite death
metal band. Their music pulses through his flimsy walls,
across the yard and into my graying temples like the very
death of silence, something I love, something I am good at,
not only choking back my words but tuning out what others
have to say, John Doe, for instance. Earlier I was listening
to his song about a couple in the Mojave desert
and soon was watching a different movie in the familiar darkness
of my head; there was only a man, in a small, spare home
by a two-lane highway. Dusk. He was at the table,
thinking, not eating supper, shifting his own gears,
wanting the woman, hating the woman, wanting her and watching
the shadows fall, listening to the traffic and feeling the world
move away. But Duncan, what a bummer ending
when I leave, mid-picture, without telling him I love him.

____________________________________________________________________

EMERGENCY ROOM

 

The hum of heavy machinery
everywhere is maybe
even more impressive than
the purpose it was built for,
life support or 3-D pictures
of the spleen or brain,
a kind of lullaby
calling every baby home,
the song of something bigger
than human engineering,
than mere problem-solving,
a warm lagoon of sound.
Even the coarser rattle
of the vending machine is saying,
Listen child, don’t worry,
go ahead, curl up
in a plastic chair
in the fluorescent hallway
as the angel nurses
and minor doctor gods
rustle past. Let go,
we’ll all be fine, hush,
even when it’s silent,
when someone pulls the plug.

____________________________________________________________________

THE SUMMER I PICKED TOMATOES

 

They told me
to wipe the dirt off
and toss the ones with bruises.
In that spirit
I will tell you
I was happy to bend over
and break my back
for pennies.
The Mexicans and I
spoke fluently
of our dreams.
We took it pretty well
when the morning sun
burned away
the snowy
fog and the crows
alighted,
laughing blackly.

____________________________________________________________________

MARK JACKLEY is the author of several chapbooks, most recently Every Green Word (Finishing Line Press), and a full-length collection, There Will Be Silence While You Wait (Plain View Press). His work has appeared in Sugar House Review, Pebble Lake Review, Rougarou and other journals. He lives in Sterling, VA.

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