Three Poems by Ron Houchin

Starlings Asleep

Something's wrong with the night,
bereft of clack and prattle, darkness is a little
emptier now beneath the maple, ash, elm where
all evening into twilight they held their congress,

solving, like worthwhile senators,  
the problems of the day: where cats should be
disallowed, the type and color of car to bombard
when parked just beneath wherever

they hold forth, and the arcane things of nature
we forget to regard until one flutters
against a back window glass at morning.  
Just now, I am loath to finish my night walk.  

Standing under their tree, I hear barely a flutter
or a wheeze.  Longing for the flight and bluster
of their day is too like waiting at the door
of a baby's room for the next breath, to be sure.

Stick Figure

Who would imagine the stick figure gorgeous
but for his hunger?  When I drew him every art
class of eighth grade, Mrs. Schlegel could not
appreciate my not giving the body all that it
could not keep, and neither could I.  What if
our youthful short comings, graphic art being
one of mine, are our future wisdoms?   

I would walk him across the page or make
a little flip book of his leading a stick figure
dog to the park.  It was so hard to draw
a stick park, I left it blank, filled it only with
imagination.  But who has ever seen a stick
park? she argued.  My future wisdom
argued, in my future head, his park is one
of those that cannot last, will wither, become
the site for several gentrified apartment buildings.

I barely passed art that year, didn't know
any of this, of course, did not suspect
how, to an art teacher, stick figures could
represent lack of effort, life being sucked
into itself, as if wanting to disappear back
to where it started, or in the straight lines and lack
of detail of its future turning into skeleton.


Victorian House

I've spent my life in a Victorian house
of the mind, place of faded doily and antimacassar,
long-dead fox shedding lice in the back garden,
slugs silver-tracking the walks.  At the slightest
breeze the applause of leaves crosses the grass,
all feels happily corroded as if falling apart
were the only fashion.
                                    Bring a new item in, think
a new thought, I dare you, a beanbag chair, a sleek
silver table, the actual speed of darkness
and the whole place shudders at night.  
                                                              Each room
is a lifetime of compost for ghosts to grow in.  
Stilts may hold houses and people above flood
all over swamps and coasts, but towers
and turrets hold the sky at gunpoint.

Ron Houchin’s ninth book of poems, Talking to Shadows, will be released in late 2020 from LSU’s Southern Messenger Poets Series, edited by Dave Smith. His collection The Man Who Saws Us in Half is also from the LSU Southern Messenger Poets Series. A new collection, First Voodoo, from Salmon, will be released in 2021 for Salmon’s 40th anniversary in Ireland. Ron’s other books are Tales Out of School, short stories, and The Devil's Trill, a novella (Main Street Rag, 2017).

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