Green Hills Literary Lantern




Signature of Lightning, Shape in the Rain



All night in the trees

I watched the music

pulse your windows.

I had seen men like me

before in bad noir movies,

fedoras shrouding their eyes,

burnt out cigarette butt

like a snake’s pale tongue

hanging above whiskery chin.

Was this then obsession?

Or just the inevitable part

of what happens to the jilted?

Overhead, refugee rain clouds

wandered like lost, dark tribes.

The first drops scattered

arrows in front of me,

pushing forward by inches,

archers calibrating their aim.

Lightning wrote its graffiti

on the wall of night.

It was at this moment

you shadowed the window,

pulled back the curtain,

stood looking out.

Why did you do that?

Was it just the thunder?

Or did you sense me

standing beyond your yard.

And what did you see?

The signature of lightning,

this shape in the rain,

which of these caused you

to turn, close the curtain,

and shut off the music?






All the vacuum knows is consumption

without gratification. Every afternoon,

it wishes it could be more, but what can it do?

It has no skills but sucking. Everywhere it goes

there is a mess to clean up. It eats to forget.

Why, it wonders, do I permit myself

to be pushed? Is it this constant hunger?

The vacuum pouts.  Its bag is bloated,

but there has always been a change of bag.

The cravings go on unabated.

There are now new, stronger models.

The one the vacuum loves has eyed them

while continuing to offer nothing real,

just the detritus of discarded skin particles.

The skinny broom laughs, says, I told you so.

The vacuum wonders, how can I ever be full?

It sighs, and things remain unchanged:

happiness is the next meal, home is a closet.







James Valvis has placed poems or stories in Ploughshares, Natural Bridge, River Styx, Arts & Letters, Barrow Street, Southern Indiana Review, The Sun, and many other journals. His poetry was featured in Verse Daily. His fiction was chosen for Sundress Best of the Net. A former US Army soldier, he lives near Seattle.