Green Hills Literary Lantern

To Ashes


The dead are put into things –

expensive coffins, dark suits,

thick lipstick or gaudy pearls.


The dead grow bored with death,

work their way into dreams like

moonlight moving through a house

or a radio sifting through a neighbor’s window.

The dead scurry to the sugar bowls,

lay down ant trails to things we hide.


We give them their last gift,

the strongest box we can buy,

the roots of oaks form simple locks.

The dead back mirrors

with a silvered presence,

fade like crushed velvet in the sun,

hide with the lost lockets, the love letters,

the sepia photos of stillborns whisked away.


The dead dot telephone lines like crows,

steal the things that shine most in our lives.

The dead stop clocks, loosen nails, pull hair,

crack stone walls and stemware.


The dead mean well,

want only to remember what living was like.

Pick up any phone and listen,

the lines are alive with goodwill or gossip.

They spread like the plague,

like sand on the hot tar of a country road.





Brent Fisk’s writing has appeared in Sulphur River Literary Review, Plainsongs, Kansas Quarterly, Rhino and Pearl among other places.