Drinks Bitter at the Black Bull
Everyone loves a good story, so here’s mine.
You’ll say I am barking but not so moony I don’t know
what I am. Their litanies could make another poem
altogether. She repeated, more than once, I was the smartest
man she’d known, and then she turned cold. No,
not in death, she wouldn’t look me in the eyes, she sent me
home. How could I face them? Charlotte haranguing me to fix
myself clean. Em, almost gone, traipsing the moors,
befriending rabbits and turnips: half-seducing ghosts.
They called me a broken fence, useless even to animals.
I thought of bulrushes snapping their swords, turtles and trees
talking back. Brambles snaked my ankles, thistle bound me to all
those what if’s and what for’s. If she’d only been a whore.
Was I rooted to this place a cracked jug without a cork,
no means to grow my life back, no bottle to shine
my eyes amber, to make me glow for her? After she refused
the sight of me, or any apology I could make, she cast me
back to my own kind. It was then I took to sucking her glass
lips, her cold indifferent tits. After too many days of this,
I confess I had my old legs back. And then the Reverend
appeared. See how he glowers at me, in the corner of this place?
Lip curled, he insists on my charity, my temperance
to forgive them all. I promised my sisters I would take none
of the bad, just enough to loosen the buttons of my trousers,
to take her legs around my waist, that frock spilled wild
across the chair. It is time now for me to return to my rest.
Another March will summon him to me, each to
the other. He, who shot his seed like a rifle into my cunt-mother.
Maybe, this year, tonight, he’ll nod his acceptance my way.
Maybe his lips will brush warm on mine. Forgive me
Father, just this once for I have sinned. But what worth
is a man without a kind lady who cried out
I was made of the softest deerskin cape, the nights she undressed
for me? The amber moon averted its eyes, placing bread
on our willing tongues, giving us peace and his blessing, finally.
Laurie Byro has been facilitating “Circle of Voices” poetry discussion in New Jersey libraries for over 16 years. Laurie was named “Poet of the Decade” by the Interboard Poetry Community as her poems received awards 42 times including 2012 Poem of the Year as judged by Toi Derricotte.