POETRY PEACE VIGIL
“It is the duty of every poet to speak fearlessly and clearly.”
– Sam Hamill
If you’ve been moved by this unjust war to write a poem, please consider submitting by email to thorleyp1@yahoo.com. or mail to SPC. Work on themes of war, the war economy, oppression and political injustice, and/or which celebrates more positive hopes and visions, will be considered.

Disturbance in the house of Song

by Teresa Gilman

The ceiling loosens up and lifts off,
the roof goes with it, and all caution
and plans. The closets groan
in their frames, clothes drop to the dust.

The wind is all that's left,
your shaky voice, wavering
at the edge like tumbleweed
across the wide expanse of rooms,

and shoes are lost, the sink backs up,
the dog whimpers at his food. Tiles warp,
grit clogs the phones, wires in the walls
wear thin, and voices whispering in the attic cease.

Those last days in August a hot tar mirage,
gnats worrying the screens, you trying to build a fire
with wet wood, shivering, the maples rotted
from rain, beeches shaken leafless,

cicadas sizzle at midday, bees
swarm over a dead sycamore,
rust eats up the machinery,
and larva dangles from the wheat.

The oaks shaking dried-leaf maracas,
you heaping logs in the fireplace, speaking
the lines of your new songs in a creaking voice,
your breaths too short for singing,

darkness pounds the chimney
all around, water runs somewhere,
moths thump in the kitchen cupboards,
and cans out back whirl around all night.

Your voice could barely hold on to the words,
I listened to the wind, its long slide guitar whine,
and the scrape of your breathing between verses
loaded my chest with heavy shot,

there's a raw gash in the lawn out front,
a bank of lilies pulled up and tossed
aside, smooth stones collected
from 40 years of lakes gone,

the fire burned off the heat by midnight.
Near dawn you lay down your guitar
but didn't sleep. You wanted to stay
awake forever,

the house reeks of doused fire,
like incinerators in 1940s apartments,
cinders rustle in a breeze up the chimney,
pigeons moan on the roof.

In the morning sun reached in but sleep didn't let go,
Brightness glazed the grooves of salt and dirt down your face,
Your chest a vee of gold in shadow in a silent room
Where all that's left is the wind.

in memory of Bobby Noonan, singer, songwriter, guitarist
lungs wrecked by war, 1946-2003

Poet's Comment:
The voice of the artist is a big theme in my work. I wrote the poem three years ago - three friends died of lung cancer in their 50s-and dedicated it to a high school friend who went to Viet Nam in the 60s and came back a lost man. I began mourning him back then, but didn't write about it till after he died.


Teresa's third collection of poems, Roses in the Sand, Your Hand, is due out in November from FootHills.