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Dead Poets

Author Biography
Poetry By
  Danny Earl Simmons

Published on: 1/10/2013
Did the universe know it was her last breath

or did it have to wait with the rest of us
for the lack of another?

Did it carry her gently away
like a kitten in the maw
to a warm dark place,
or did it rip things from her body
the way wedding rings get torn
from the sky-blue fingers
of battlefield brisance?

I hate to think of her erasing
into nothing more than nothing more.

It would tickle her pink to know
that one crisp autumn afternoon
in the not too far away, a little boy,
having spent all of his Saturday playing
outside, rushes into his warm house,
grabs a shiny red apple, takes a bite
as juice leaks down his chin

from where the universe has allowed
a little bit of my mother to run.

Published on: 1/9/2013
Alumnus at Spartan Field

It's just turned cold in the mornings
on the field where wide-shouldered
young men hone the heat of their prime
and imagine that they are gods.

He hears the clash of power
against power, the grunts, the curses,
the bleeding, that old gravelly voice
snarling into the sweaty steam of stupid youth.

He watches until his soft body shivers
and his tired joints begin to ache
with the stiffness of relentless melancholy
and a longing for the ball.

Published on: 1/8/2013
Peacefully, in His Sleep

He awoke as shadows gnawed his chest
like they hadn't eaten in weeks. His eyes opened wide
upon the black. He heard his wife breathing deeply,
clutched where the pain clutched, found something in the dark
to appease his need for focus. The ceiling fan spun steadily
above the lovemaking that had preceded him into sleep.

He watched it spin and each rotation came with a memory
and a self-diagnosis. Did it burn? Yes. It burned in his center
like the time he leaned into the furnace when he was eight
and let it be his excuse for crying over missing his father.
Was it radiating? Yes. It spread like the warmth of the first time
he saw her. Was his left arm tingling? Yes. It tingled like a fairy tale,
like a helpless maiden's rescue from a black-hatted witch.

He could not wake her for this. He felt tears now, sliding
into his ears as he lay prone to emotion. He tried to turn for a kiss.

Published on: 1/7/2013
Onions and Butter

The mother's hand shakes
as she spoon-feeds her son.
She's missed lunch again.
All she wants
is to get him fed and down
before starting on dinner.
But her hand is shaking
and her baby is teething.

His face is covered in cereal and drool.
He cannot get enough of the feel
of his tongue between his lips.
Trills another cereal-laden raspberry.

The father looks up
from yesterday's newspaper.
Tries to choke down a laugh.

She drops the spoon
into the bowl. Stands,
one hand on round hip,
one hand waving, "He's yours."

After a few minutes,
yesterday's paper set aside
for the last time, the father scrapes the bowl
as she spreads peanut butter on toast.
He airplanes the last mouthful
into the baby's wide-open smile.
The baby rubs red-rimmed eyes.

Just dusk now.
He sings to the baby
in the rocking chair.
There's a sizzle in the kitchen.
She starts to hum along.
The baby's eyes close. The house is full
of the smell of onions and butter.

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