Foreclosure, A Survivalist’s Guide
In my dream coming true, I lose
the fighting spirit and the locks on my door.
I never lose the debt. I am poor,
therefore one of the most wanted.
I hide in the woods under leaves or rocks.
I know where to squat out of the light,
when to steal sips from the river,
how not to scare the perching vultures
whose heavy wing-beat might drum
the wolf to my outdoor door.
When I feel as dead as these woods
in winter, I stand still as a snowman
with no eyes, no fog of breath
to identify the barely living.
I become a stalagmite in the empty forest
where everything is an absence,
where there is nothing to hunt,
nothing but gales singing in the trees.
Wind shoots its icy arrows through me,
but I am used to being cold,
frozen hard, invisible, so that
I will never have to fight them.
If you were a ghost passing through me,
you’d see nothing on the inside.
Were you the wind bouncing off my chest,
I’d feel nothing where you tried to move me.
I am built of stones and bricks
stacked high enough to barricade the birds,
even the wind that might lift their small spirits.
Their broken wings fall before me,
leaves piling up against my wall,
spreading out like my own shadow.
These bricks are made of my blood.
At first soft and easily moved, they hardened
around the wounded mind, the eyes
swiveled inward to safety.
If you could have channeled my blood into yours,
you could have been my country, my friend,
my enemy, my lover. Instead
you found a hole too deep to fill
and the loose brick of solitude too heavy to lift.
ROBERT S. KING‘s poems have appeared in hundreds of magazines, including California Quarterly, Chariton Review, Kenyon Review, Main Street Rag, Midwest Quarterly, and Southern Poetry Review. He has published three chapbooks (When Stars Fall Down as Snow, Garland Press 1976; Dream of the Electric Eel, Wolfsong Publications 1982; and The Traveller’s Tale, Whistle Press 1998). His full-length collections are The Hunted River and The Gravedigger’s Roots, both from Shared Roads Press, 2009. Another, One Man’s Profit, is forthcoming from Sweatshoppe Publications in 2013.