by Fred Pelka


This is the road I take,
heaven-bound when it snows,
inhaling each prism,
leaning back on my heels as the plow passes.
The blizzard drains the sky
but fills the trees, until
I’m lucid as the morning prayer
when the monk finally saw his own shadow,
eyes bloodshot as rubies.
If seeing is believing
then each set of eyes
must claim its own theology.
Feeling enters and exits
down this winding street,
but at the group home I stop laughing.
Come bedtime I accept all the pills
I never swallow,
hoarding them in my cheeks
to spit later from my dark window,
a pithy offering to the elements.
I will smile as they are drifted over,
knowing that tomorrow
I’ll catch the squirrels doing
their usual strut and shimmy,
terce at dawn,
vespers at dusk,
a chattering descant
all through the day.


Your body is the body of a wheelbarrow
carrying these scars, these memories;
your soul the wheel that keeps it trundling along.
Or is it the other way around?
The soul, laden like a wheelbarrow,
your body the wheel that
enables it to roll
till whoever is pushing it
sets you down.


Pretend there is an ear
listening through this wall,
or that the wall is the eardrum
on which your thoughts pound,
reverberate, enumerate
every odd whisper, every
half-felt desire, sticky drops
of red wine that leave
a residue at the bottom
of your dreams. No one else
is listening, not even God.
No one else is here to imagine
your soul years from now,
disconsolate. It’s your own
heart-beat that portends this
lonesome monologue. It’s these
moon-brushed clouds shifting
like pages of a score swept
by the wind front to back, then
back to front. That barking dog is
the bow, this light in
the window is thick with the rosin
of your eyes. Can this be your preferred
encounter? They hardly know
what they ask, those who want
your compliance.

It is forbidden to walk on stilts
in the snow-filled rooms of your imagination.
It’s forbidden to find random jewels
scattered like autumn leaves
splayed across the ground,
a billion flecks of dyed sugar.
In the moonlight a proscribed sensibility
settles like tainted milk, pale embers
of heatless flame. The black branches might
move against the window, whispering
of joints cracking, of knuckle-bones
settling their affairs, of Morse Code tap-
tapping in the wind, an anachronism,
since everything now is digital,
zeros and ones,
deep language of the cosmos,
meaning God may be a zero,
or a unity:
take your pick.

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