What Keeps Me Here Is The Dialogue

To live past the end of your myth is a perilous thing.
–Anne Carson, Red Doc,  March 5, 2013

Not believing,
I take an insult surge,
then silence, for a loss,
some awkward lesson.
I can’t understand
the legacy reference,
haiku inkpots emptied
on linen writing sheets.
Calendar renderings of
Dali in May, in December,
debris of discard oranges,
blue masks, cracked shoes,
render three confused responses.

Beneath the blue steel sky–
no stars, slivered moon,
past distractions of remittance men,
cell phone Marxists, hipster spend on
Americano and cold brew,
we meet on the street,
step back from the corner.
Countering old friend formalities
with one continuous coffee,
a six pack of Molson Ale,
we work through a singular
set of absurdities and factions.
Topical news ensnares him.
He’s begun to think in decades–
and now he’s lost one.
The ending of an era leaves him
withered in its passing.

Between moonlight and searchlights,
car windows down, I’m driving too fast.
Out of Memphis via Louisville,
Combat Rock rattling like a bottle
dragged against a table,
I’m taking a road to market,
a highway into town.
Lines of famine refugees roll blankets,
squat in unsold houses.
Children playing a sidewalk game
pitch me chalk when I stop,
point out which squares to skip,
what entrance ramp to take.

Slowing through the city, urban totems of
dated paint-dashed murals, abstract tags of
martial flags, gang slogans scatter walls.
Soldiers, brisk to their stations,
man disease checkpoints, school blockades.
Treaty ports have grown,
spheres of interest accelerate power.
Secret protocols, leaked for approval,
market trade deals, arms-for-influence.
I got an email before he left,
stating he was taking
his reputation to the coast;
recent emails saying he’d passed.
Not losing myself to memories,
I retain those I regret,
re-introduce myself to strife.

R.T. Castleberry, a Pushcart Prize nominee, has work in Dissident Voice, Caveat Lector, San Pedro River Review, Glassworks Magazine, Silk Road and Gyroscope Review. Internationally, he's had poetry published in Canada, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, France, New Zealand, Portugal, the Philippines, India and Antarctica. His poetry has appeared in the anthologies: You Can Hear the Ocean: An Anthology of Classic and Current Poetry, TimeSlice, The Weight of Addition, and Level Land: Poetry For and About the I35 Corridor. Read other articles by R.T..