Green Hills Literary Lantern

 

Stone

 

No leaf left on any tree you can see from here.

It is good to have one’s darkest

suspicions confirmed.

You may keep secrets but you are not allowed

to choose which ones.

Some will be written on your tombstone

whispered over and over

by fallen leaves.

The thing you wanted everyone to know

will be forgotten.

Carve your own stone to say whatever you like

but beware survivors who may revise.

I’d rather trust the leaves:

the other day I met Ambrose Bierce walking

through the woods. I don’t mean his ghost.

The last thing he said to me was

“. . . before it’s too late.”

I’ve been trying

hard to remember the first part of the sentence.

That night I dreamed everyone I knew

wore masks that looked just like themselves.


 

 

Possible First Lines of a Novel

 

I could have died that morning

and no one would have been the wiser.

 

The thieves fled on foot.

Nobody chased them.

 

She pointed the pistol at him

and said, All right, you bastard, this is it.

 

She was the most beautiful woman

I had ever seen, and I knew

she could never love me.

 

My name is Smith, he said. Smith with an S.

 

The stairs seemed to go down forever.

The footsteps behind me were growing louder.

 

The clown’s makeup was smeared

with sweat and all the rice pudding

the children had flung at him.

 

I had to get rid of the body somehow.

 

If

 

If he knew he’d be dead by dark

Tolstoy supposedly said he’d keep

plowing which proves either

he really liked to plow or else

he was a bit off that day and I think

it must be the latter because

no sane human likes to plow that much

unless you mean the Shakespearean

metaphorical kind of plowing

but Ell Tee was way too uptight

for that sort of language

and not that imaginative

but if I were cursed with knowledge

of my own imminent demise

I’d find a hot metaphor

and have a wild time and get

a revolver to defend

myself just in case I’m slated to die

at the hands of a jealous lover

whose girlfriend I’ve never even

met and I know I’d probably

end up being shot with my own

weapon because as the Greeks

figured out a long time ago

that’s how these things usually end

because nobody escapes irony

but still I say it’s best

to go down fighting or

polishing your weapon or being

metaphorical or doing anything

that counts as honest rebellion

 

 

 

 

 

 

David Rogers' work has appeared in The Comstock Review, Atlanta Review, Sky and Telescope, and Astronomy magazine. He is the author of two novels, D.B. Cooper is Dead: A Solomon Starr Adventure and Thor’s Hammer, and a fantasy novella, Return of the Exile, each available from Amazon. David lives near Cave City, Kentucky.