Poetry by Stephen De France Ω Art by Yuki Yasuda
Being a recluse is a side effect
of being a writer,
being bleary eyed and
pale from sun deprivation
is another—and once you pass beyond
the half century mark on the calendar
your dating world transmogrifies.
What I mean is
there is a new unreality evolving from the
computer dating culture—a new world paradign
where nervous biographical blurbs,
dance from the truth & very old photographs,
shot through camera lenses smeared with vaseline,
or laced through cheese cloth,
or anything else that erases time or wrinkles
or signs of age from the face.
Forget the corner bar & hot spot,
folks there are not so easily fooled.
Enter an anonymous world—a disney land
world of lies, omissions, and personal fiction.
A world where nervousness prevails—a 21st
century existential house of sand
built around a fear of time, a fear of age
as every ad proclaims
life is too short & time too fleeting—
these ads lament our mortal race
against Alzheimer’s, stroke, bed wetting—and simply put
we must party now, live large in our stolen moments,
guzzle garden party drinks & take cheap flights to Paris.
Smile into out-of-focus-Kodak snap shots in Venice,
Geneva, Egypt & send them home to Bakersfield.
Desperately we must have fun, knowing soon our thighs
& asses will spread wider than any economy airline seat.
We are the Cougars and Jackals—-mostly we are afraid
to stop moving—-for if we do—we know our loveless souls will
transfigure like Dr. Jekyl & Mr. Hyde into a cess pool of broken
*promises, a foul place where ancient dreams gatherer to die.
Dogs baying, howling. Men in a jeep.
Drinking beer. Pointing guns.
Shrubs cracking under wheels.
I’d seen them earlier today. Sitting in
their jeep. Shooting squirrels out of
trees. Blew ’em all apart. But I ran
till the forest was quiet.
Resting here beside a clump of dead
branches I hear dogs baying. They’ve
found me. They’re close. I hear shells
rattling into rifle breaches, bolts
jamming shells into firing position.
I’m running again.
Behind me a bolt slams down,
the popping crack of a gun,
the side of the tree next to me explodes.
I run hard.
Run with all my strength.
I leap over my trail & crash into
tree cover. But the jeep is rattling,
jerking itself through underbrush behind
When I hit the stream
the coldness of water tears breath from
me. I stop for a second to regain
direction. A 30 bore bullet smashes my
flank, it’s like being clipped by a
truck. I’m down, then up and running.
I see my fields golden in the sunset,
it’s my spot. I have to try for it.
Wildly with total concentration,
Over bushes, brush past trees, knock
branches down, in my thirst to escape.
I’m moving now. Flying over earth,
my mind afire with the pain in my flank.
Now breathing coming hard.
What’s this? A strange taste.
Choking. Blood in my throat.
The ground rushes toward me.
Something going down.
I’m on the ground.
Breathing blood & foam from my mouth.
More burning, body going numb.
Try to get up. Can’t.
Someone standing next to me.
A boot rolls my head over.
Didja hit em?
Yeah, deader ‘an hell.
He didn’t hit me. He couldn’t have.
I’m still running, still alive.
I see my spot now.
It’s here. Tall grass. That good smell.
All the way up to my shoulders.
But I don’t remember it being
Steve De France is a widely published poet, playwright and essayist both in America and in Great Britain. His work has appeared in literary publications in America, England, Canada, France, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, India, Australia, and New Zealand.
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