5 poems by Bob Stout

Mass at the Casa de Brigidas

The priest waved his hands

as though each of seventy-some parents

were Pinocchios

attached invisibly

to his adept

and mobile fingers

“…your sons,

your daughters,

respect, obey…”

Not a grunt

or snicker

but a silent

twitching murmur

lucky if they

even hear us!

“…just

as you respect God, Creator…”

                                              of all

the snares and dangers

–drugs and sex drives,

car wrecks, bomb threats–

“…forge

the world

He in His wisdom…”

dumped

upon adults by definition

but inside still really children

trying to cope

with angry spouses,

friends in trouble,

rising prices)

“…turn away

from earthly

pleasures…”

airline crashes,

serial killings,                                                        

stock fraud coupes

“—suffer

here to gain Eternal…”

Nuns

picking at guimpes’

starchy collars,

mumbling

their childless

problems

“…submit,

receive

His bounteous

blessings…”

mini-vans,

new clothes,

computers…

Twisted on the cross

above us

Christ, the martyr,

gazing past revolving fans

as we, the parents,

nodded,

thanked Him,

“Father,

that we love them…”

 

and are loved

(we hoped)

a little in return.

 

Elaine

Beige curtains twisted into dancing shapes

as real as dreams. I rose, watching as they

seemed to touch, then part, then spin slowly

back to touch, fingertip to fingertip, again.

Rhythms floated in and faded as I crossed

the room to gaze towards sailboats anchored

in the bay. Come with me! Elaine once whispered

as we’d danced across a jetty. Pulled off our clothes.

Plunged into currents swirling alongshore.

Clasped each other’s bodies quivering from cold.

 

A truck edged past, its headlights flickering

across the fronts of dormant stores. Now get me warm!

she’d laughed and run and tripped. Rolled over.

Held me, shivering, as we’d surged past instant wanting

into places where the sea and sky were one.

Then rose, exhausted, strangers brushing sand

from heated bodies, trying to laugh

and walk back to the jetty, talk: My God!

We’re silly! I still feel like you’re inside me!

No thoughts then of schedules, children,

just the beach and palms and jetty.

Again I felt the wind assault our wetness.

Felt her fingers touch, then separate from mine.

 

Stranger in the Coffee Shop

Faces move

to greet me

shyly, shove

aside the danger

 

of too quick

a smile. The

waitress licks

her lips. “Odd

 

weather,” someone

whispers. “Coffee?

Sure.” She runs

to get a cup.

 

The cook peers

through a crack

above the grill,

a stack of pancakes

 

in his hand. An old

man coughs. “More

butter please.” I sip

my coffee, read

 

the paper as they nod

themselves back

into safety, all being right

in their small world.

 

November, Oaxaca

In the vacant lot down the hill

the leaves are turning yellow

and the long stalks of the sunflowers

have cracked and fallen.

Tiny butterflies—some black, some white—

flit through brambled summer growth,

brown and barren instead of lush and green.

A lone dove pecks at particles of seeds

beneath a tangled mat of inert vines

and the wind

makes rustling sounds.

 

A man with an atrophied arm pushes

a bicycle vending cart

down the gravel roadway

calling to vacant houses

that he has corn for sale.

 

Boatman in the Jungle

Hunched like a hewn

immobile idol

He listens to the water

lisp its power

His nerves the rhythm of an engine,

eyes the function

Of trick whirlpools, currents,

knowing beauty as a deck’s thin knife

that dissects green.

Robert Joe Stout is a journalist living in Oaxaca, Mexico, who has contributed nonfiction, fiction and poetry to a wide variety of publications. Much of his writing is focused on social and political themes involving people and events, present and past, that affect the United States and country in which he resides.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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