Toiling, tolling on a blistering day,
shadows poking their noses where they
don’t belong, patch of burley a furnace.
Lamp green fountains at parade rest out past
the wind break. Strange, bells in the yawn
between dinner time and supper time,
Henderson Chapel dozing mute in the
oxbow of the Little Pigeon River,
topping knife gnawing a memory
in the tender palm of your hand.
Fort McPherson filtered through piney
woods, a livid rash on red Georgia clay,
caking your boots coating your tongue sucking
last sweet drops of marrow from boyhoods
rib bone. Bells? On a rifle range? slicing
through cold drenching rain, needling spittle
from bellicose sergeants pretending
not to hear plaintive peels between cracking
Garand’s, sagging paper target a stand
in for some farm boy from Hokkaido.
Solemn chimes riming rackety chatter
from the CB radio, prickling your
neck, limning the approach of something
roused dowsing for a heartbeat down the line.
West Virginia three-way split, fresh gash
in a runaway truck ramp oozes odds in
your favor so pedal-to-the-metal.
Youngstown by midnight, hint of actinic
keratosis riding shotgun on your
sunny window arm, clinging for its life.
Seventy-one Thanksgivings seventy-one
heaping helpings not to mention seconds.
“Another piece of pumpkin pie?” well why
the hell not? After all, I mean, you know,
considering. L Tryptophan might
explain the tears but those confounded
bells, drowning out the ones you begat
reading In The Night Kitchen on the sofa
for the seventy-first consecutive
time, across the room yet miles away.
Tolling, tolling, warm for late December,
leaden sea laden air keeps to the coasts.
Too late to make the early buffet in
Kissimmee, metallic din a swelling
companion piece to the final flutterings
of a broken finch flagging against its
cage. Scale a ladder just shy of 3 p.m.
so like you, an early exit to beat
the traffic. One last look, it tolls for you
sweetly, sweetly like the Bells of Rhymney.