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Welcome Back, 1964
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by Jesse Glass
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Barn burnt.
Sheep with it.
Smell of
roasted mutton.
Ribs of a work horse
stark above cinders
scorched legs
in sideways gallop
running from its fat & leather
into bone & stone & dirt.
We stood
in pre-dawn
autumn.
Trooper with his
pad said
“Arson mebbe—”
Fire truck's
cleated tracks;
mud & water
soaked across the lawn.
Hounds
escaped
from the
killer-wick
now
lolled,
licking singed toes.

Heat-split oaks'
tick & fracture;
moon-bright
smoke-skein
fading over puddles—
& bludgeoned
apart barn boards
hung
bluely aglow. Dim slithers of orange
bit cuticles of
cinder. (Heard hidden
burnt-
thru matter surge &
tumble.) Father
with his forehead in one hand
leaned against a fence post
stalled
between the mighty
stations of his breath—
I
coughing,
poked a sheep skull
with a stick: charred
jaws
black in flexure,
tongue like a lodestone
prickly with silence.

Mother sighed &
left us, climbed the hill
to the propped-on-blocks-&-timber house,
baby brother
writhing free of his blanket
in her arms. I saw her
bend & straighten
framed by kitchen window light.
Mouth moving mournfully
in silence, she
brought light to each dark room.
I turned my stinging eyes away
& almost drowsed...
“Look out!
“Look out!”
—last wall
tipped & fell.
—Dad shouted
“Go get the cellar buckets!”
& we threw
water on fog
till dawn
gave us more
dimensions
to our grief.

©2004, Jesse Glass



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Jesse Glass is an American poet who lives in Japan. He is the publisher of Ahadada Books, and a professor of literature and history at Meikai (Bright Sea) University in Chiba, Japan. His poems are online in many places, including BeeHive, Ubuweb and PennSound.
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