TROPIC OF OCTOBER
The last of the roses
there by the low wall
October's noon-squint sun
still warms awhile,
is going to wrack and ruin.
Death's slow fire licks the petals
til one rises and another falls
ashes to breath to earth to light.
"Soon come," is all she'll say
when Jim asks for the morning mail
in another October, another city.
It is Kingston, and death
is no place and everywhere;
dogs chivvy it through the night
and the air reeks of oleander.
October sleeps with itself in the north
until there's no day left.
November, nearly stillborn,
lies cold as a slug in a jar lid
full of beer. On my suburban block
"Ollie, ollie, oxen free!"
rings off the windows and children come
like wraiths from the leaf piles.
Over the mountain in the dark
and the smell of burning cane
we ride in a red Ford truck,
in an orange light that wavers
on the undersides of clouds.
to nowhere, some bad end,
tipped over in a ditch
by Shooter's Hill.
But no. Soon come, not home,
but like the mail at morning
somehow fixed to this world's
cheek again, repetitious as the bird
that spoke one note all night
from different trees. We come
with the starting up of trucks,
their day-long growl up Constant Spring.
Next time, more rum and water
before leaving Mandeville. Or none.
Elm leaves roar up
bone fires. The sky fills
with ashes not of martyred saints
but pages of the morning news.
There is neither ending or beginning.
Soon come. Only now.
Hear Scott Murphy read 'Tropic of October'