Saturday, August 15, 2020

Haunt's Road

Haunt's Road

You resurrect
on the long road rolling,
with your homeless soul a
prairie schooner full of dull copper
 blood and moonshine, nightmares wild in 
the harness, their snaffled tongues slipping
into dreams with a slow-steeped poison, 
changing sun to eclipse, good to bad, 
alive to dead in a bone-shaking shock,
down along the wheel ruts
 where the wagons 
used to pass.

By 4:00 a.m. 
you're in the house.
The sound of your last rasping
 breaths liquid with suffering still
floating your medicine show, barking
on the mattress-midway the subtle
vibration of your restless shifts,
 a moan and a gasp on the empty
 crater of our bed, hawking
a snake-oil brewed 
for love, or

I put 
your ashes 
out on the hill by
 the dog who loved us
so you may leave
 this haunt's road,
this dead-end.
 Run with 

painless, free,
 green in cloudy  forest,
prairie wind to wrap
you in a place of
 naked stars.

If you 
knew who I am
you'd never
have come.

 August 2020

posted for

*This poem has been edited since publishing

Images via internet, artists unknown     Fair Use


  1. In all my OBE years I remember the eight dogs I've had better than I do things with done with my ex. This is a wonderful chin up tribute to one of yours.

  2. First -- any poem with "snaffled tongues" wins big. I like "prairie schooner full of dull copper blood and moonshine" a lot too. "prairie wind to wrap you in a place of naked stars." Dark and luminous!

  3. This leaves wisps and a chill on the skin and an ache slightly deeper in. I think I'd like to hear this set to music--it feels like a ballad that would haunt upon being heard.

  4. This both haunts and brings pain. We look into the dust and hope somewhere peace waits in our joining with earth.

  5. Death and the loss it brings is a certain haunting indeed and these lines prove that beautifully! Exquisite imagery in this Joy!

  6. Oh! This is tough as a sucker punch and as light as falling leaves. Because I know some of the backstory, this is all the more immediate. I love the resolution with the ashes, Chinook, and the absolutely heart-shaking ending and final image. I wish I were not in a depression fog, because i want to let you know how powerful and affecting this really is. I feel scalded and blessed by it, both.

  7. I am gasping as I come to the last word of your poem. That you allowed me witness to all of those emotions is epic. I am humbled.

  8. Those ruts where the wagons used to pass reminded me of my Grandma, who lived near such ruts in her girlhood, the end of the 1800's. Then I got to your last three stanzas and my heart almost stopped - his ashes by your beloved dog actually brings tears. Running free, green in a cloudy forest - such a loving wish it hurts my heart.

  9. Haunting's road, the road home, both pass through a present dream of the ashen past ... Elegies place the speaker twixt the lost, are both conversation and exorcism. In this poem there is a waking from a dreamtime sidhe still covered in the dust of the road; shaking off the "slow-steeped poison" the ghost is back, present as the moment of crossing over, exhaling the last, bed emptying out, a history ended. How present and painful those moments, their ashes, "haunt's road." So joining them with the beloved dog's ashes is to place them Outside, joined with the prairie wind, "beloved, painless, free." A personal duty to grief and memory. Last stanza made me wonder if we ever know our beloveds, if the gulf between I and Thou, is why the road is so endless. Amen. Hard work here and it shines like starlight.

    1. I have had some vivid nightmares of my husband since he died--seeing him in rooms, feeling him in the bed, but knowing he is dead even in the dream--they are not pleasant, and he is not himself--or so I hope, but some darkness I have inside me. Anyway, thanks for getting it, B. This pathway so close to the veil often feels like it is crumbling under my feet.

  10. This pen has been open on my browser all week. I keep revisiting, starting and abandoning responses. I remember, the speaker is not (exactly) the poet - but whether an avatar, a shadow, a projection, an alias, a synecdoche, a distillation, or simply a reflection, I can only offer: knowing who you are, yes, he would come. ~

    1. Thank you, Michael. You comfort my heart by saying so. Hoping you are holding up, as best you can.


"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats