Green Hills Literary Lantern


Caring For Moths

With deft fingers a tall, beautiful girl

undoes my shirt buttons, rubs unguents

several places about my chest,

attaches electrodes from a black box

octopus on a stand. “Just relax,” she says,

takes a seat in front of a screen, clicks

the beast awake and makes sound images

of my old heart. I lie on my side, do

what I’m told. Some while I watch: my valves look

like moth wings or bits of curtain here shown

in bright gray against blue-black. As if

my black heart is a hand gently squeezing

a captive moth. After a bit I close

my eyes—somewhere, maybe way ahead

or maybe just a few more flurries, I guess

the moth gets tired, wants out, flies away.

“We’re finished, she says, smiles. I thank her, leave.

First Light

Dr. Jennifer says, “Hospital”

and within minutes I am breathing pure

oxygen, am warm in hospital bed

and having blood drawn. They ease me to sleep.

Hospital routines begin with vital

signs, taken here after 4 A.M….more lab

samples as needed, special therapies,

whatever. So I have rested, awakened,

dozed, given samples, rested and am awake

for dawn. This brightening seems clear, begins

as almost imperceptible glint

of light, a false dawn promise

reflecting ahead of Eos. And then slowly

and serenely arriving, arriving

like a deeply drawn breath or a kiss

and ever more light sweeping out dark

until bright beams color my room

and me and cast my shadow.

I rejoice to see this day, feel sun, see

my prescient shade. Meanwhile that very

wave that washed serenely past me and lit up

thick Missouri current, Kansas prairie,

Flint Hills, skipped across eastern plains

of Colorado like a girl to glow pinkly

on Rocky peaks, danced Sierras, glanced

down long green slopes to Pacific spray,

lithely, serenely rolled over white-top swells

to kiss fishing-boat sails, circling gulls, island

palms, blossom lands, unceasingly

serenely arriving.

Some say it will come again tomorrow – but no

it has never stopped, will never stop. Serenely

loafing, speeding, flowing forever as what is

gives itself, lets me glimpse eternal dawn, serene,

in its flowing forth and on and on river of light.

Chevy of the Gods

Soon after, I slowly drive down the street, tell

myself that I may see it again,

admit someone else owns that old pile of junk

and it means nothing. And I swear, at least

consciously, I don’t look for it, but come

along Main Street, see dented muddy nose parked,

pointing into Herm Murray’s grocery,

home of fine foods. That’s where my brother

worked while he was in high school; my mom

and dad, like everyone else, ran a tab

and paid their bill at month’s end, totally.

For a split second as I see the blue

side, I’m sure Dad will hoist his grocer’s sack,

be standing in the door and maybe wave

at me before I know he’s flat on his back

off south beneath fresh earth, dead flowers.

Blinking my eyes, I drive slowly on.



One of Missouri’s finest poets, Jim Thomas has published many hundreds of poems in the U.S. and Europe. Since his retirement from Truman State University, he has lived with his wife, Rita, in an old stone house near a winery in Hermann, Missouri.