The Following Two Poems Just Published by Indiana University’s Literary and Arts Journal


I am extremely honored that two of my poems, “Graveyard” and “Corner Bar” have been published in the spring edition of “From the Well House” – Indiana University’s Literary and Arts Journal. Please visit them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/fromthewellhouse  I am reposting the two poems here in honor of my “Followers” who push me to keep writing with their support and encouragement.  These two poems are for you! ~ Thank you….Dennis McHale

GRAVEYARD

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I always found the
taste of Heaven stale,
like coffee three days old.

I prefer to spend my nights
in graveyards with ghosts,
in the company of stone angels
and cemetery cats
whispering my secrets to the dead.

The setting sun casts
dying fingers of soft orange light
through rusting iron gates,
lobbing sharp, offensive shadows
across these cold granite faces.

Above, an unkindness of ravens
caw an unspeakable truth.
Of late, I have been known
to sing with them.

My darkness is a sanctuary,
my voice a broken prayer.
My hope deeply planted
in this field of shattered bones
awaiting a resurrection
that shall never come.

Here among the sleeping dead
I have lain down many times,
and in the stillness of the night
have heard my death composed.

CORNER BAR

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It always felt familiar and safe;
not like home, but filled with that same tragic scent
of failure, futility, and confusion.
In this darkened chapel, night after night,
we feigned brotherhood, but watched our backs.
We found religion in tall tales
and twisted notes floating softly from the jukebox.
The enormity of the lies exchanged was staggering,
yet not once was truth demanded.

Here, we worshiped and blessed ourselves
at the mahogany and brass altar of amber absolution,
our sins washed in a flood of cheap whiskey and stale beer.
Our bottles filled the night with dead words and hungry ashtrays
and all these incessant “maybes”
while shameless calls for “another!” filled the tepid air.

We licked the back of our teeth
and bought rounds for the prostitute sitting there all alone,
hunched over to entice our drunken libidos.
We adored her, this faded Madonna,
with her chipped teeth and sagging breasts,
reeking of a stale alcohol and tragic perfume.
Where once there had been beauty and life
some bastard had beaten it out of her;
taking everything that made a woman good and reduced her to this.
Our prayers were answered
in the way this whore swallowed you whole
in the back room’s secret confessional
where you keep her words tightly knit
in the dark corners of your heart.

This was the flip-side of our saintly home-lives;
our souls consumed in the repetition of it all.
We whispered our hallelujahs as the clock struck two;
last call and a slow retreat into the shameless shadows of wretched existence,
as God soundly closed the doors behind us.

Beyond the Blackened Veil


Homeless Man

The long days,
the forgotten nights,
have left me scarred and depleted;
I’d consumed my fill
of sour cabbage and cheap whiskey
and slept on damp piles of rotting leaves,
wrapping myself in regret and self pity.

There were, of course, lucid moments;
when the wind would caress my cheek
softly, like the touch of an angel,
and in those moments,
I made vows not meant for keeping.

My coat, now threadbare
and reeking of last night’s vomit and rain,
has been my home;
I dwell deep within its folds,
seeking some comfort there
and finding none, toss it to young mulatto boy,
who will be dead before winter finishes lashing
his heroin scabbed flesh.

But listen, my friend –
I have known joy and love,
and those in copious measure,
when I was young and foolish enough
to believe that even the wilted rose retained her charm.
I have lain with princesses and chambermaids
with equal passion,
the rusty moon of autumn casting
night shadows upon our secrets.
I once handed out ten dollar bills
because the roll in my pocket was so big
it chaffed my thigh.

Now, the cold jingling of pennies and a nickel
mark the cadence of my stumbling gait.

In my youth, and folly, I read Yeats and Eliot
and took solace in their pretty tomes;
they hung bejeweled words around my neck
and filled my boyish mind with infinite possibilities.
They lied, of course,
but still I welcomed the deceit
and even scribbled a few haughty poems myself
on love and other falsehoods.

Don’t misunderstand…
I do not rail against the imbalance of life.
Some ride the festooned dragon across velvet skies,
while others bathe in the shit and piss
of their miserable existence;
and certainly we will all go down – together –
beneath the broken sod.

Today,
I just look for a patch of yellow grass
upon which to lie down,
close my blood stained eyes,
to catch my final breath
and let this bitterness go.
I have no fight left for this life or any other.
I am weary and resolved that there are
new worlds and better poems
beyond the blackened veil.

The Destitute


bolivia-prison

This is the refuse of humanity;
huddled in these corners,
iron-chained and forgotten
souls. These slimy walls
reverberate with muffled echoes
that slip through iron bars, devoid
of white wings to carry
hope to a voiceless god. The
ceiling hovers like a heavy mist,
dark and putrid, thick and barbed,
chocking any head held high.
Footsteps fall on a threshing floor gaping
with endless chasms where
missteps twist the misstepped into
vague memories. Here, forgivers are
unforgiving and the soother speaks
with a forked tongue lashing through
grinning lips, while the outside clamor
of unbound hands applaud and
beckon for an encore. This is where
a healing touch decays and
withers as the cacophonous
shadows swallow warm light.
No stars pave the way to an
escape; no amount of strength can
tear the bonds of this furious
storm that confines vitality amid the
waves of rotting life. No
song comforts. Listen to
the empty void of removed memories.