Ambient

A group of schoolgirls from downstairs laughed,
and then the front door slammed shut.

Maybe the girls went out and took
their humor with them. Crickets
are chirping in the bushes along
the front porch, so maybe the girls stepped
outside and are about to laugh
to scare the crickets off their branches.
Crickets always make the loudest
sound on an early autumn night like tonight.

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Alarm Call

I will find time on Saturdays to sleep in.
I will be able to lie across my bed
through dawn. I will slip into imaginary
places and misremember that I have been
nowhere else, until I sit up inside
my bedroom.

I will find that kind of time again. But
every weekday from today on, I will
wake up in twilight and go downstairs.
The world will illuminate as I sit in my chair.

Lessons from a Graveyard

A wife can outlive her husband,
a husband can outlive their son,
by decades. When the gravedigger
digs their grave and the mason creates
their stone, the mason etches
the husband’s name and dates of birth
and death, the wife’s name under the title,
“His Wife,” and her dates of birth
and death, and the son’s name and
his dates of birth and death.

In advance, a wife can arrange
with the mason to have her name
and date of birth etched on her stone.
So, when the wife dies, the mason
can easily add her date of death on.

Commonly Challenged

Out from my uplifted hand,
I release my contraband of
blacklisted novels.

“This is no time to be making new enemies,”
Voltaire said, reclining in his deathbed,
asked by a priest to renounce Lucifer.
Here, I have to concur.

My books are picked up, one by one. The
librarian mutters thanks without conviction.
Tonight, the pages burn in my neighbors’
lanterns. I will not rise in the morning.

I will be asleep, under the darkness
of my sheets, years after my pages
were burning.