Salem 1692

 

Land of the few, land of the proud, life of toil under a shroud

of misery and treachery, of mortal fear of bird and bee

a kick a punch the devil’s grin, a curse that lands upon the chin

a knee to the soul, a fist to the head, staying alive means loving the dead

the book the sword your name your fate, you love the lord you learn to hate

the men in town who shoot the birds, those quiet children killing words,

 

hiding in woods, dance and song, dark of night, memory long

deep and lonesome, breathe cool air, peal of laughter, do you dare

sing the praises of a boy, turn and spin now feel the joy

be a child, be a girl, be a woman as you twirl

feast of passion, feast of life, someday soon you will a wife

a mother and a sister be, more alive but hardly free.

 

Then a boot upon ground, a roar and scream, a coven found

a man a god a broken word, a spell that flies just like a bird

upon the back of darkened night, a wing that suffocates the light

that drags you back upon a pyre and kindles it with rabid fire

that summons demons, sin and vice, that smiles sharp and prays to Christ

that calls to lust and fear and faith, and never bows to its mistake

 

for Salem is a solemn town where girls tread lightly on the ground

where evil stalks the brazen heart and justice, sweet justice, is a manly art.

birds gossip in the early chatter of sunshine

the wind’s scowl is daunted by milk skies

the crooked dogwood still naked blushes

the carpet of pine needles holds the memory of frost

the empty flowerbed is a comma

the roof basks and the windows sigh

my skin breathes, so I am a frog, too

my soul on this fine day is gathering

my heart is a porch swing gently

 

 

 

 

 

Early this summer

I robbed a grave

dug into the earth

with eager hands

and pulled from

my childhood a

long lost friend

a boy to climb a

sixty-foot pine

one sticky branch

at a time, hand

over hand, perch

to perch, our

breath light as

we closed in

on the sky,

stopping only

to drop laughter

on the world

between our feet.

With each limb

more bounce more

sway and more

breeze to push

us off center,

tense seconds

until we swung

back safe. A passing

grownup would

have shouted.

That we knew.

But we also knew,

always knew, we

were protected

by young skin

strong lungs and

a knowledge bred

into us by true

parents, that if

we slipped, we

would simply unfold

our wings, catch

the air and carve

circles through

the sky. Then we

would drift slowly

back to the ground

where our feet

would touch softly

and sink new roots.

The Harvest

My Writing 

 

I slam my hand in the trunk of

the car, swear under my breath

because the kids are swashbuckled

in and my wife is crowsnested in the

passenger seat. All of our booty,

stuffed parrots, pieces of eight,

extra eye patches, is strew at

our feet, the litter of our lives,

the jewels, the stuff of stories. 

 

I back out of the driveway, aim

at the horizon and am distracted by

the ocean outside, the laughter behind,

my wife checking her phone.

But soon I am adrift with purpose, ferrying

us forward with a blessed hour and eleven

minutes to be alone.

 

Every inch of this sea is mine,

every ounce of brine, every whitecap.

The pain in my hand reminds

me of my children’s fingers,

how I bandage and kiss them.

My wife closes her eyes.

Our wake is now a playground for

dolphins. Our ship takes on passengers,

enemies are shoved down

the plank and forty minutes

have passed in a blink. 

 

During this time one son has become

a sea monster. The other is plotting

a mutiny. But Melanie will take

the helm if I am taken prisoner.

She will finish the journey when

I go overboard. 

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© 2023 by SAMANTA JONES