Author's Note: The devastation of Hurricane Ian and the wildly irresponsible talk of tactical nuclear weapons remind me of Bob Dylan’s apocalyptic song “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall:”
And what did you hear, my blue-eyed son? And What did you hear, my darling young one? I heard the sound of a thunder that roared out a warning I heard the sound of a wave that could drown the whole worldI remember reading that Dylan wrote each line as the beginning of a song he might never get a chance to write. Fading light indeed.
A Chance Encounter
A man sees his father in the distance, bags dangling from each hand. He watches for a long time as the old one slopes toward him in the late afternoon. When they meet in the middle of the road, the father lowers his head, the son reaches out to take the bags, which bend with their heavy cartons and fruit. An owl perches in the only tree in this urban landscape, a huge bird with gray feathers and eyes like black coins.The street is deserted, though it is nearly five o’clock, and the sky has darkened with rain. Soon the thunder begins, then streaks of lightning tear scars through sheets of cloud.
The Bridge at Night
I walked the bridge at night, following a dead poet as he wandered past clocks and chickens, as he loitered above the black river in his threadbare coat. He must have known I was there, but shadows loomed above our heads. I don’t think he feared me on that cold night of rain. We went to a bar just off the main street, and I trailed him to a rickety table in the back. Wait, he said, and slipped a matchbook underneath the short leg. Now the table felt secure. I placed my hands near the ashtray. He flipped a coin. Your round, he said, and as I moved toward the bar, he opened a book and slipped inside. I brought two beers, then went back for whiskey shots, Bring some pretzels too, he said, but I couldn’t reach them without forcing my way between two lumberjacks, who looked hostile and drunk. A waitress appeared by my side. She brought us steaks and mushrooms and Brussels Sprouts. Her hair was up in a ponytail, and when I asked her name, she began to sing in French. Oh, I said. That’s right, she answered, I’m engaged, but not to him. The poet had mustard on his shirt. His shoes looked wet, and it felt as though he had been lost for many years. Congratulations, I said. When is the wedding? Oh, she said, in about a hundred years, when he cuts his way through all those thorns and offers me another way to die.
©2022 Steve Klepetar
Editor's Note: If this poem(s) moves you please consider writing to the author (email address above) to say what it is about the poem you like. Writing to the author is what builds the community at Verse Virtual. It is very important. -JL