- For Jeff Albertson
When the dark wizard reigned in the body
of Theoden, King, Wormtongue spoke
for the man who shrank, etiolated
by the drawn blinds, whose stifled air became
a mist in which all visitors seemed enemies.
Now expulsed from the throne room,
banished upon pain of death,
the lifelong reader knows he will return
to his serpentine plots, sharing the secret
passage to the stronghold of Helms Deep.
Meanwhile, the white cloak commands me
to let the traitor live, so to study
what droughts or poisons grew his power,
& one day, let his knife slay a greater enemy—
but the savage interim, while he’s passing,
taught me to curse his name.
Snapped up, there’s blood,
but folded seven times,
Waved, a lousy fan.
Squared in a pocket, pursed
Lost in the wash, bleached
ink, edges pucker, a mussel,
good flesh inside.
The Groundhog of Gull Bay
Is a bold whistle pig. I see
in disbelief, he can climb trees, & consider
this while our teens sunbathe, eyes closed
to “Dear Prudence.” For now, he saunters
up the knotted carpet to the top of the stone
by the deck, listening to adult guff. He’s a big one,
getting comfortable with us, chilling by the swings, ranging
by the fireplace. Why not? While the bushes squawk
(there is a fox) & squirrels float on the kids’ slack-line,
the crown prince of ground cover
ambles off & back, sampling the compost,
unsatisfied, on the lookout for our next offering, yet
growing wide as the summer.
Odd Man Out
Owl’s luck to find her in my place, draped
across my wife, my younger daughter also
there in her sweaty density beside
the white giant, Bear Bear, another squatter.
So, I wend through the dark to their bunk
where even the laptop is re-charging.
The bed’s too short for me, too hard.
No Goldilocks, I lie, butt out, big feet
off the edge. No Procrustes to fear,
only outlines in the shadows: the lion,
& sideways camel, the snow leopard
& unicorn. The faces of her menagerie
inspecting a stranger come to join.
This storm’s gift
for animals whose work it is
to burn the dead.
If cleared, shoots lift,
plants extend. In the wind,
tonight, a neighbour’s fire offends,
its wax & sawdust smoke
a refusal of the good
system before them. What falls
grants more light & air
for the remaining branches
bow to the earth & gather
none of this wasted.
Max Heinegg is an English teacher and a recording artist whose records can be heard at www.maxheinegg.com
His poems have appeared in 32 Poems, Thrush, The Cortland Review, Nimrod, and Love's Executive Order, and his poetry reviews have appeared in Rain Taxi and Atticus Review. He lives in Medford, MA, where he is also the co-founder and brewmaster of Medford Brewing Company.
I make records; here they are:
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