The Young Ghosts Still Good Friends
Centuries old trees lean aching for the sun like skinned-knee children for their mothers. On the creosote posts, redwing blackbirds dial their sneers to the pond mad with algae. Only the dead know this place, the cemetery private as the junkyard hides behind the tunnel— tiles peeling each time a semi slices through. Ears pressed tight against the scum-soaked tiles rescues you from fates like kids rumpled like trash; dead satellites flung down through the atmosphere. Suck lungs in or else the wind could catch and drag you down like tide. A battered size eight sneaker shrinks behind shadows like a secret or reminder— Hell’s little skill of showing you its fingerprints. They don’t meet me where they died. Instead, each one emerges from the levee wet, lace trough blackberry patches ready to talk like couples after fights. They’re willing to talk if I’m willing to listen. Clinging to the swing set that in summer sways unused except the dead, always pleading—go higher! higher! higher!!
You purchase all your sanity cheap. Cheese crackers, jerky, radio good as the jukebox at your juke joint. But twelve hours in, a travel mix repeating for the umpteenth time swerves thoughts to home. Conjure your half-psychotic exes, all the war scars earned in the battle of the sexes. The stifling past like sweat exits pores; with forearms, wrists, and shirt sleeves stiffening with wetness you wipe up what memories you can. Let the rest evaporate. The long drive conjures that tiny river town where you grew up. Its lockup near the sleepy ferry held two nursing scratches from a fight— a slim-knuckled blue-eyed black girl lances glass shards from slender forearms while Elizabeth, the girl refused my prom invite, rubs uncuffed wrist wounds. Both likely there still lancing infants’ ant bites, refusing credit applications, and rubbing strained peas from chubby-cheeked kids. All constrict in the rearview’s gaze as the odometer’s twitching extremities earns a reprieve from people too inconsequential to the outcomes of your life to ever forget. Traveling like this, you are your life’s ship captain. And even though it hasn’t come up yet, you know no matter what you are going down with the ship.
Geoff Munsterman’s poems have been featured in Poets for Living Waters, The Southern Poetry Anthology, story|south, The New Laurel Review, and Solid Quarter to name a few. His debut collection Because the Stars Shine Through It will come out Fall 2013 from Lavender Ink and he is hard at work on the follow-up, the book-length poem Where the Scars Wake. His shingle hangs in New Orleans.