Letter to Schwaner from the Toad-Swallowed Moon
Dear Jeff: The glow here betrays our fantasies,
and between day and night and that uncertain
moment when neither holds sway, I have gained
a toehold on consequence. Who knew darkness
could shine so? Last November the surgeon
incised my belly six times but no light oozed
out and little crept in. I say little, but feel
a peculiar radiance emanating from my middle
which I can only attribute to the moon, although
the medical professionals would say it’s just
gas. But what do they know of Sheng-Yu or
Li Ho, of jade wheels and spilled cups? Last
night, to honor our marching sisters, I looked
to the cloud-filled sky and toasted them and
our ancestors, the poets and scapegoats, friends,
allies, compatriots, Five White and Jackboy,
shedding a solitary tear of joy in the process.
We won’t label the other tears, but I shudder
at our country’s current course and how the
bulging wallets of the rich continue swelling
at the expense of the poor and unhealthy,
the elderly, the unacknowledged, and those
living on the fringes, in colored shadows.
If we meet in person on some desolate, moon-
free road in a country that could never be,
how will I know you but from the ghosts and
smiles sparkling in the surrounding fog,
and the little voices singing their sad tune
of happiness into the night. This is where
we stand today, but tomorrow? Look for me
on that bench. I’ll be the full-bellied fellow,
the one with an eclipse leaking from his shirt
in a six-point pattern, two glasses in hand,
wine uncorked, ready for reptiles and politicians,
mirth and causation and good conversation
in brightness or tenebrous calm, whichever
needs replenishing more. But bring another
bottle. Or two. Talking makes me thirsty. Bob.
* * *
My poem “Letter to Schwaner from the Toad-Swallowed Moon” was first published at The Hamilton Stone Review in October 2017. Much gratitude to editor Roger Mitchell for taking this piece.
I just love this one, Robert!
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Thanks, Mary Jo. It was a pleasure to write.