Featured Poet–Six Poems by Larry Rogers

Monsoon Sky

In high school
I read a book
about submariners.
Anxiety, its
author said,
is sweating out
depth charges.
Then I couldn’t
imagine a fear
so intense;
this morning
that’s easy
on this hill
with a number
for its name.
Every bunker
and every hole
in the ground
in which two
or more grunts
are gathered
is a little
mental hygiene clinic,
and it’s still
impossible to manage
the stress here.
Bloated corpses
litter the landscape,
and choppers, at
max capacity with
our wounded, splash
like giant tadpoles
across the monsoon sky.

_____________

A Horse-Drawn Cart with
Car Tires for Wheels

In June of 1967 two local boys
died in Southeast Asia.
A few days later I saw
a horse-drawn cart, with
car tires for wheels, carrying
two grieving, teenage girls
to a tiny cemetery that
was another ten miles down
the dusty path they were on.
In better times I would
have good-naturedly derided
their mode of transportation.
But this morning I just
pulled over and let them pass.
In San Francisco and other
far away places, it might
have been a summer of love,
but in The Hillbilly Outback
I recall it being a summer
of nineteen year old widows.

_____________
The Only Man I Ever Shot

The ghost of the only man
I ever shot is right
over my tail.  I hit the brakes,
he continues on, crashes
into some trees; no sweat,
he rises like the steam
in a distant jungle.
Now he’s in my fingertips,
dissecting my skull;
now he’s directing thoughts
at every intersection in my brain,
signaling 4 ideas to proceed
simultaneously at one 4-way stop.
I tell my VA man about
these psychological collisions
and pile-ups and he just
shrugs his bureaucratic shoulders
and says, Take a number, Son.

____________
Dueling Phobias

He showered 12 times daily
but didn’t feel clean until
he scrubbed his flesh away.

For someone who hates attention,
he certainly stands out.

_____________
Sherman

Remember that boy in the back
of the classroom so timid even saying
present when the roll was called
required taking a deep breath
and holding it for 20 seconds before
slowly exhaling to pacify his
palpitating heart?  He grew up in the most
anti-social clan in The Hillbilly Outback.
On the remote hill they called home, dust
kicking up from what passed for a road,
a car or truck could be seen approaching
from miles away.  Outsiders, someone would
shout, and they would all scatter
into the woods until their uninvited
guests departed.  62 now, his yard
hasn’t been mowed in years or since
he last spoke to neighbors and trimmed
his 2-inch long fingernails.  From
his crumbling porch he stares at ceramic
deer munching concrete in an industrial
park, ready to bolt for the weeds behind
his shack if anyone stops to say hello.

____________
The Pine Cross

I grew up
in west
central
Arkansas

I called it
The Hillbilly Outback

It was just
cowshit
and crazy people

I had a pal
called Moonshine

I had a pal
called Meth

Unless you
count time
spent at
the pig farm
in Grady
none of us
ever got out

When I was
a child
deep in
a bruised forest
I found
a pine cross
that had
been used
for target
practice
and managed
with great
difficulty to
get it home–

just as Mama
was slamming
the door on
a Jehovah’s Witness

A pine cross
has magical power
and I decided
to lean this one
against our
front gate
to ward off
salesmen who
before moving on
down the road
were stomping on
Mama’s welcome mat
to get he dirt
off their shoes

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2 Responses to “Featured Poet–Six Poems by Larry Rogers”

  1. Great stuff. Enjoyed reading. Keep writing.

  2. Thank you for this amazing poetry – so moving, integrated, reality-endowed. Speaks deeply to the heart and soul. Thanks, again, for making my day with your words.
    Best, Winnie

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