After the Separation
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.
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.
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
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.