The Birthdays of the Dead

It is an affront in their land
to remind someone of that first
exile because they recollect

the sojourn with terror still and
regret the loss of it.  All those
dawns, roads, splinters, whiskies and hard
chairs, all that fucking and eating

and talk, talk, talk. They never talk
since it takes tongue and breath. All that
breathing! they say inside themselves
when the memorial comes round.
Well out of that cadence! they say

all day. No more of those little
amnesias, the sleeps! Now they have
more than all the time in the world.
Someone across the borderline

has tied two fingers together
with black thread, not to forget, till
nightfall and the time to cut it.

 

 

 

 

Charles Hartman has published seven books of poetry, including New & Selected Poems from Ahsahta (2008), as well as books on jazz and song and on computer poetry. His Free Verse (1981) is still in print, and Verse: An Introduction to Prosody came out from Wiley-Blackwell in 2015. He is Poet in Residence at Connecticut College. He plays jazz guitar.

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