“Grey Lights” by Zachary C. Bush


Hammer beats subside, eventually. Suddenly a clock stops at 9:48 AM. Somewhere a boy is being filmed in a room with cigarette burns on velvet walls.


Lost—the sand is a wool-infection of the ears. The solution won’t cure the plague until November’s end. Dinner spoons are being offered as peace symbols to the weak.


Blizzard beaches are landing pads for the spiritually starved, sexually sickened, or suicidal.


The clock resuscitates itself at 9:56. The boy is grey-skinned, blending black and white.


Nursing cuts, bruises, decapitated moles, and fearing the irrational omniscience of divine prophecy, the boy moans for everything he’s lost. Sulfur bombed the room bright grey. Green jade flames spark the sky, reminding him of the 4th of July—the sulfur—blue crab shit on raw finger tips, freedom. Traps set in the dead of winter.


Ho! There flies an eagle over the left shoulder of the camera man. The wind sends mixed messages: a boy is just a boy; traditions tumble, in time; this sex is digital.


If the boy tried hard enough, he could remember exactly what his bedroom looked like—a spacious closet within a tighter one— the walls stain-speckled grey. Last summer, that’s when it really all started. He had gotten a call from his mother. This time he was prepared to listen. She wasted no time, no words, no direction, but told him how of a cloud; how a storm had ripped through the farm; how the winds lapped up the peanuts, the cows, her sunflowers, and the county’s retired school bus. There was rust. The rust covered all that it destroyed, like maggots on the dead. But, the storm wasn’t the worst of it. Nope. There was a cloud that loomed and swelled up, all at once; there was a cloud that that never went away. And she couldn’t sleep, thinking about it. There were colors crisscrossing colors, hateful colors—she said, she paused, she screamed “what spinning rage!” But, it wasn’t that easy; never was. The call was muffled, somewhere in the middle, but the boy knew that he’d heard enough. There was something about a screaming man, a bear, and a practical joke with no safe word….

Zachary C. Bush is an instructor of English Literature and Composition. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the City College of New York (CCNY). In the Spring of 2011, Bush will enter the Doctor of Arts & Letters program at Drew University. Bush is the author of three collections of poetry: Angles of Disorder (BlazeVOX books: 2009), At Swan Decapitation (VOX Press: 2010), and The Silence of Sickness (Gold Wake Press: 2010), as well as eight or nine smaller chapbook collections. He is currently at work on his fourth full-length collection (of prose poetry)– A Screaming Man is Not a Dancing Bear (BlazeVOX books, TBA). Bush and his girlfriend live just outside of New York.