March 15-21, 2021: Poetry from Steve Black and Robert Baylot

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Steve Black

Until recently a road sweeper living within spitting distance of London, now looking for gainful employment. Published here and there, now and then.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Steve Black and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

tanka

another hell
what the neighbours
do or don’t think
her medicinal cup
half-empty

 

tanka

i trace the contours
of a weather worn map
from mountain to sea
a river
runs through my heart

 

tanka

the murder of crowds
i kept my distance
long before the plague
i told a psychiatrist one
but she’d heard it all before

 

sedoka

orders another drink
stays on his own
turns away from the tv
the beautiful game
claims he nearly made it once
then again didn’t we all

 

tanka

he wades the shallows
as he did a boy
waiting on the horizon
for his dead to return
they never do

Robert Baylot

Robert Baylot now writes from Germantown, TN, but was born in and lived most of his life in Vicksburg, Miss. Many hours were spent in the Vicksburg National Military Park which commemorates the long Civil War battle fought there. He has an MA in English and Creative Writing from the University of Southern Mississippi. A long time employee of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, he has published poetry in Deep South, The Broad River Review, Clarion, the Delta Poetry Review, and other journals. His short fiction has appeared in The Blue Moon Literary and Art Review, Mysterical E, and Every Day Fiction.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Robert Baylot and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Grant’s Circle

(Vicksburg National Military Park)

Back past Graveyard Road,
Where one statue looks like Perry Como
And another is the gatekeeper from
The Wizard of Oz,

Past the memorial to African-American troops
And the local’s secret entrance,
You bicycle round the bend,
And there suddenly is Grant riding his horse.

You see first the horse’s bronze rump and tail,
Turn the slow curve,
Past where the rattlesnakes
Have been known to sun,

And honeysuckle and wisteria
Climb up from the gullies,
And you start the climb
Where Grant faces out from upon the hill.

He is surveying the troops,
Forever historical.
You speed up to climb the small incline,
Leaving Grant and his horse frozen forever.

 

Lightning at the Louisiana Monument

A Sunday afternoon, walking the park,
With my wife’s assurances that thunderstorms
Will blow over; we walk from the visitor center,
Through the arch, down and around,

Passing the Shirley house, the Illinois monument, and across
The dirt path, a remnant of Old Jackson Road,
Through its cut banks. After that, downhill and
Near the surrender point.

Clouds gather quickly above the
High peak of the Louisiana monument,
Itself a finger poking the clouds,
Reaching into the firmament.

Drizzles, more rain, we walk on,
Concerned now about lightning and thunder
Grumbling like distant cannon fire.
One Mississippi, Two Mississippi, we count the distance.

Progressing downhill, rounding a bend,
A hundred feet lower in elevation,
We are stuck in a battlefield, around us
The pounding of thunder in an echo.

Around us the lightning crackles
More powerfully than all of the battlefield’s cannons.
We are maybe two hundred yards away,
Looking back, having just escaped.

Rains now pelt the battlefield.
Though we were soaked, a driver picks us up
And returns us to the visitor center,
The portal back from the Civil War.