"In the South" - Clifford Brooks

"In the South" - Clifford Brooks

offer no history, only
a permanent revolution of seasons --
a melody,
a natural catastrophe.

Our loose thoughts combined after I told you
about the blond vagabond playing Vivaldi downtown
with only his toes touching the ground,
the soothing sounds those strings
spread were his roots among us
that challenged reality, in it
he was the only soul entangled.

His violin was spotless, though he was not --
he was a stalagmite, vapor, the remnants of awful parents,
vacant eyes, gaping mouth.

Unkempt, he was another time-wasted thing, disintegrating
from an inability to remain tangible, shadows crowding 'round,
same as you see on the road home through Yazoo, Waco, and Monroe,
impassable because your headlights always shined
behind … nevertheless - a surreal sight on Hancock, that man

like the dark wood of a dining table, primer still smelling
of orange blossoms wiped up in dusty plumes, letters propped up
against a vase beneath the bowing heads of crested irises,
nearby is grandfather's photo in black-and-white,
expensive parchment for better letters is unused.

Today, for me, a lady is a fading reflection as I look out
from a sturdy frame; the air is filled with cynicism.
For years I collected specters in a blue Bible,
and tonight i give them all to Vivaldi’s madman.
Those motels, the lying sleep, this time to mend:
They are forgotten secrets between us and lunacy.
They are no longer yours.
They are no longer mine.

play to help remember, keeping
time the way a metronome does:
Not to pass the hour,
but hone its rhythm.
They are blades that slice away
what I don’t want.

Clifford Brooks (www.cliffbrooks.com) was born in Athens, Georgia His second full-length poetry volume, Athena Departs: Gospel of a Man Apart, as well as a limited-edition poetry chapbook, Exiles of Eden, were published in 2017. His first poetry collection, The Draw of Broken Eyes & Whirling Metaphysics, was re-issued in August 2018. Evergreens, his second chapbook, will be released by Lucid House Publishing in 2019. Clifford is the founder of The Southern Collective Experience (www.southerncollectiveexperience.com), a cooperative of writers, musicians and visual artists, which publishes the journal of culture The Blue Mountain Review and hosts the NPR show Dante’s Old South. He is on the faculty of The Company of Writers, and provides tutorials on poetry through the Noetic teaching application. 

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