Caresses and Clubs

silence thick as her stews sometimes
filled my grandmother’s house
but for the cars on 15
on a wet night
hissing toward Picatinny

Buicks, big black Packards
heavy as her hard life
wide whitewalls spinning
on two-lane asphalt
before the interstate sliced through

a table in her living room
cluttered with snaps of Jim and Jack
Howard Frank Velma Ruth
Gladys Leo Leroy Pat;
the lot of them in by-gone
white & black,
mugging hugging beaming, being
young as they’d been for ages,
for their tiny taste of time
their vitality a temporal joke
their smooth skin taut as the sky
on a blue blue day

a pillowed day-bed
against the front wall under a window
across from a brown coal stove
radiating from October
till the geometry of earth and sun
more suited blood & breath

fat chairs stuffed as her turkeys
holidays in mist real as a pin pricks
bright and huge as a looming moon
crisp as frost

memory’s a fierce and tender thing
the way it claws and cradles the day
shadows and light shifting
shapes of illusions
filled with mercies and accusations
the caresses and clubs of the lord


by Jim Culleny


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