• Robert Joe Stout

Two poems


After the Separation

I

From the window I could see

people scuttling through the mist,

their faces striped strawberry

and lemon by neon lights. As they disappeared

I stood alone, a boy

in a meadow beside bloated sheep

that from a distance seemed

to be twisting and writhing

but up close were rotting carcasses

clotted with maggots and flies.

II

In the hallway

I stumbled across a bent, quivering man

pressing a wrinkled hiker's cap

against his eyes. I asked

what was wrong

and he spit. Then called me back

and apologized. His girlfriend,

he said, was epileptic

and had locked herself in his room

and tried to commit suicide.

III

That night I took my billfold

from my pocket

and with my finger traced the smiles

on the snapshots

of my four children.

Their voices like whispers from trees

that have just learned

springtime abundance.

Working Writer

Blinking past computer’s Next! Do this!

Delete? Save? he turns, surprised to find

sunlight patching half the poster

on the wall as clouds outside the window

coil, split, dissolve. Twin bell towers

of the little church mingle

into wisps of brick kiln smoke

that seem to form hills of their own

then dissipate, an ancient ritual

the ficus imitate, leaves glinting

their charade with an itinerant breeze,

movements like his thoughts

that waver, curl and then return

to where he is, alone, a man part dream.

Robert Joe Stout is a long-time freelance journalist and former magazine editor. He has been published in Subprimal Poetry, Emrys Journal, Existere, America. New Politics, Two Thirds North, Chic, Conscience, The Louisville Review, Into the Void and many other magazines and journals. He lives in Oaxaca, Mexico.


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