Green Hills Literary Lantern

Mobile Home



His mobile home rests on the scorched footings

of a farmhouse burned out thirty years ago

and he in a chair on its cracked concrete porch,

drinking by the light of a dying fire.


He kicks the coals and an orange flame leaps—

shadows of burdock sticking up through the rubble

in the gutted basement dance.

For a second former friends return


from war, drugs, family, jobs, and death to relive

the frenzy that possessed them in their youth.

Beside his feet a horse skull grins

in the afterglow, a souvenir of brush,


heat, rocks, sand, snakes, and space he wondered

at when he roamed Mexico like some criminal

trying to escape his past, self, place.

Cornstalks click as wind shifts, stirs ashes.


Fifty yards north Rock River reveals a moon still

and passing. One last swallow and he loops

a beer bottle up into a maple limb

reaching over the basement. It clunks,


drops, shatters against the mound of glass below.

A dog barks from the farm two miles south.

A horned owl hoots, suddenly visible

on the chained gate at the lane’s end.


In seconds each sound is absorbed by spent coals,

stars. His breath swirls the chill air as he rises,

stands, swaying slightly, like a rowboat

anchored on an almost motionless ocean.




Edward Beatty is retired and lives in rural Illinois. Over the last four years he has published in many journals. He has poems forthcoming in Natural Bridge, Rhino, Fulcrum, Out of Line, Sunstone and Northeast, and has appeared this year in Permafrost, Poetry East, Willow Review, Cider Press Review, Bayou and Karamu.