Soliloquy of Cemetery Trees
Only when a grave fails to respond is a person truly dead.
Gloomy contentions, pass on like whispering ancestors did,
the tension of fictions, the dirge and diction. Sympathetic oaks
lament winter’s skim of frost. Crisp slivers of brown leaves
huddle along the cemetery’s crowded lanes, winter
silhouettes stiffen as winds surge and providence whips us.
Grief and love exist to disengage misspent desire; transcend flesh,
ginkgoes guilt and guile knowing what should not be spoken.
Militant vines surround us, and entwine the fig tree with fists and knots.
Stone benches await mourners who never stray back
along the root-split path, beaded glove on the wrought iron gate.
Cherubs planted everywhere, oblige our plots, inscriptions mold
across marble. Vespers echo; a Church band's minced benediction.
Clang of spades. Frail willows eavesdrop and set forth pardons.
Dust can only speak of dust, and permit each sacred face to attend the pit,
inhale the unsullied vapor, and oblige the seraph as she inherits a final prayer.
Beams of delinquent headlights snaggle dormant branches of the dogwoods.
A granite ewe guards the last infant's stone.
I conquer with post-modern piety.
A deity, I bronze with grammar glam.
Dismiss wrongful qualms in their weakest tweets.
With detractors, I hiccup no-problem/
shrug WTF, diss their untamed tongue.
Un-redacted vocab reframes ego.
Selfies reform self. Gussy me in-style
to be cuddled/post-self-consumer grin.
Sometimes, I kiss the road toad/re-adorn
my neighbor’s place. For mine stays kingdom-come
of peaches/pearls, in baskets, or on strands.
Champaign spritzers to toast true-blue homies.
Like elegant. But confused which plastic
platinum fork I even choose/use first.
Sam Barbee’s poems have appeared Poetry South, The NC Literary Review, Crucible, Asheville Poetry Review, The Southern Poetry Anthology VII: North Carolina. His second poetry collection, That Rain We Needed (2016, Press 53), was a nominee for the Roanoke-Chowan Award as one of North Carolina’s best poetry collections of 2016.