Fiction   Essays   Poetry  The Ten On Baseball Chapbooks In Memory

Tom Sheehan

A Small Red Star for Me and My Father

This appointment came when light tired, this arrangement, this syzygy
    of him and me and the still threat of a small red star standing
          some time away at my back, deeper than a grain of memory.
I am a quarter mile from him, hard upward on this rugged rock he could
    look up to if only his eyes would agree once more, and it's a trillion
          years behind my head or a parsec I can't begin to imagine,
they tell me even dead perhaps, that star. Can this be a true syzygy
    if one is dead, if one is leaning to leave this line of sight
          regardless of age or love or density or how the last piece of light
might be reflected, or refused, if one leaves this imposition? The windows
    of his room defer no light to this night, for it is always night there,
          blood and chemicals at warfare, nerve gone, the main one
providing mirror and lethal lens, back of the eyeball no different
    than out front, but I climb this rock to line up with another rock and him
          in the deep seizure of that stolen room, bare sepulcher,
that grotto of mind.

Today I bathed him, the chest like an old model, boned but collapsible,
    forgotten in a Detroit back room, a shelf, a deep closet, waiting
          to be crushed at the final blow, skin of the organ but a veneer
of fatigue, the arms pried as from a child's drawing, the one less formidable
    leg, the small testes hanging their forgotten-glove residuum,
          which had begun this syzygy, the face closing down on bone
as if a promise had been made toward an immaculately thin retrieval,
    and, at the other imaginable end of him, the one foot bloody
          from his curse, soured yet holier in mimicry of the near-Christ
(from Golgotha brought down and put to bed, after god and my father
    there are no divinities), toenails coming on a darkness no sky owned,
          foot bottom at its own blood bath, at war, at the final and resolute war
with no winner.

Oh, Christ, he's had such wars, outer and inner, that even my hand
    in warmth must overcome, and he gums his gums and shakes his head
          and says, sideways, mouth screwed into his outlandish grin,
as much a lie as any look, as devious, cold-fact true, "I used to do this for you,"
    the dark eyes hungry to remember, to bring back one moment
          of all those times to this time; and I cannot feel his hand linger on me,
not its calluses gone the way of flesh or its nails thicker now than they
    ever were meant to be, or skin flaking in the silence of its dust-borne battle,
          though we are both younger than the star that's behind us
and dead perhaps, as said; then, in a moment, and only for a moment,
    as if all is ciphered for me and cut away, I know the failure
          of that small red star, its distillation and spend still undone,
its yawn red as yet and here with us on the endless line only bent
    by my imagination, the dead and dying taking up both ends of me,
          neither one a shadow yet but all shadows in one, perhaps
a sort of harmless violence sighting here across an endless known.

©2003 by Tom Sheehan

Tom Sheehan's fourth poetry book, This Rare Earth & Other Flights, was recently released by Lit Pot Press in July. His third novel, Death for the Phantom Receiver, an NFL mystery, was just released by Publish America, to go along with Vigilantes East, issued last year. is currently serializing another novel, An Accountable Death. Wind River Press will issue his chapbook this year, The Westering. He has received four Pushcart nominations (prose/poetry), two other nominations for excellence for prose work, a Silver Rose Award from American Renaissance for the Twenty-first Century (ART) for short story excellence, and was last year's non-fiction competition winner of London's Eastoftheweb site. More than 500 pieces of his work have appeared in print and Internet sites, including 3amMagazine, Three Candles, Story South, Slow Trains, Clackamas Review, Tryst, Eclectica, Nuvein, Fiction Warehouse, Pierian Springs, Pindeldyboz, Small Spiral Notebook, Paumanock Review, Stirring, Electric Acorn, Summerset Review, Megaera, Kudzu Monthly, and others.

Definition: syzygy[siz´ujE]: in astronomy, alignment of three bodies of the solar system along a straight or nearly straight line. A planet is in syzygy with the earth and sun when it is in opposition or conjunction, i.e., when its elongation is 180° or 0°. The moon is in syzygy with the earth and sun when it is new or full.

  Home Contributors Past Issues Search   Links  Guidelines About Us


Subscribe to the Slow Trains newsletter