General Poetry posted May 19, 2022

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Questions on the beach

A Campfire and a Joint

by Theodore McDowell

Campfire on windy beach.
First year of retirement.
Yellow and orange flames
burn shadows
into dusk.
Tonight, will we grieve
before we sleep?
Ocean, garbed in darkness,
hunches over jagged rocks,
a piano maestro
brooding above ancient keyboards,
intense, untamed,
cracking waves against cliffs,
pounding fortissimo.
Tonight, will we dare
let bruises heal?
Dim lights from our lodge
glow behind us, distant.
Tonight, will we sleep
in separate beds?
Gusts rattle windbreakers,
sweep sand into dunes,
bend grass and sea oats.
The master pianist bangs
relentless questions
against desolate
winter shores:
tonight, will we talk
of cancer and death?
A harsh insignificance
overwhelms us,
beautiful in its indifference.
We’re weathered driftwood
washed ashore, alone.
Tonight, will we shape
a stylized pastiche
of identity?  
We share
Navajo “hanoolchaadi” blankets  
and two thick joints.
Giggles percolate
into full-throttle laughter.
Tonight, will we howl
at the red moon?
We’re teenagers, high again
on hashish and make-out sessions.
Crazy kids,
caught up in curiosity,
devouring late-night exploits
and greasy eggs and bacon
at an empty Waffle House.
Tonight, will we wear
ski socks and talk
for hours about our favorite movies?
Flames dance samba in dark eyes,
seduce with bossa nova memories
from Blind Willie’s jazz bar.
You loosened my tie,
kissed my neck
with erotic riffs.
Tonight, will we dance
carefree, hands raised,
two lovers swaying
in the current of a Brazilian
street festival?
Deeper into dark chill,
blaze snaps and crackles,
consuming self-created purgatories.
Half-spoken premonitions
writhe into blackness,
sliver behind stars,
feed on our failures.
Tonight, will we tack
sins or dreams
on the sky
and watch them fall?
Bundled, huddled beside
crack and flare,
protecting against the forte
and chill of indifference.
Tonight, will we nestle
in the pianissimo tenderness
of our quiet hearts?



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