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Prairie Schooner 80.2 (2006) 154-156

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The Baby, and: Blue Horses, and: The Dead are Rising

The Baby

You are there.
I have finally put
a face to your ghost
in the cracked photograph.
I am the smile on your

face, the half-grin you
used to sway my mother.
Now, in the tall grass behind
the stone carved with your
name, I feel your breath

in mine, in the curious
letters of your unit and
rank in the quartermaster
corps. I take the cold stone
in my mouth, ring the

bell of this night hour.
If the ground could open
and set you free, I would
take your bones inside mine,

walk with you from this
cursed place of maggots and
worms, go to a ballpark, pitch
a fast ball in the dark, knock
one over the fence, drive

the moon into the trees, [End Page 154]
list all the things we
never did on a paper
plane, daddy, and fly
it all the way home.

Blue Horses

Only the abandoned gate
flung wide open to a cemetery
in the dark is the beginning of
my dream. My algebra teacher,
Mr. Hawkins, who flunked me in
eighth grade, is the keeper of the dead.

I tell you, I have often wondered in
sweat-soaked sheets what the square
root of nothing is, what the birds
I drew in my Blue Horse notebook
meant. Meanwhile, there is no one
at the gate. Not even a crow to

dot the sky, nor wind to move
the hinges or make them creak, just
the muttering of the shades by my
bed in this motel room, my heart in
their rolled up flapping at the gate
where only the pardoned enter. [End Page 155]

The Dead are Rising

The earth is filling up with the dead
in great distances between dreams and

sleep. The dead sing halfway around
the moon, upside down, on a swizzle

stick, a carnival ride. They are rising,
soft clams to the digger on a pale beach,

exposed film in a dark room, whitening
as they rise above TV antennae and

gnarled coat hangers in empty closets,
above white refrigerators sitting at

the curb, enameled corpses put out,
mouths agape, for the recycle man in

his shabby coat, their bleached bones
the light in a traveling carny's eye.

Walter Griffin's poems have appeared in Harper's, Poetry, the Paris Review, and elsewhere.



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