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JEFF GUESS


Under the Headlines

 

1. The Murder

Under a dawn frost the old dairy wall
crumbles into an exposure of chrome light

here her beauty bought only a brief season
unlike the wild briar that claimed a longevity

until this morning and this frost
like old dry barbs in firm young flesh

after him who lies in a week’s new proper grave
and never lost a night’s sleep for her

buried in his past of ninety years
now the dark silting of his veins

has finally claimed a craven heart
as his huge workman’s hands, then

– a clasp of thorns about her small soft throat
just until the frost fell in her eyes.

 

2. Yesterday

Burning the paddocks against the boxthorn
thistle, caltrop and the purple curse

there is only smoke now billowing up Bethel’s
miles of unmade road as far as the graveyard

red and blue lights from the highway patrol
flash through hot grey wreaths of stinging oils

what might be ghost riders of the salt bush and scrub
dismounted now in sickly yellow shapes

stand taciturn around the embers of a shrouded problem
one stoops into an abyss of acrid fog

to what the wild dogs and the wind’s attrition left behind
sticks and stones – the disinterred white bones

of an old homicide while all the while
things are falling through the air and going back to dust.