4 Poems by David Welch


Questioning Manner

 

A woman and a man banged on the door and I opened it.

 

I answered all the questions truthfully.

 

The guards stripped off my clothes

and I was beaten by palm rods until my ribs were so sore

I increased speed and began to howl.

 

The teacher raised his eyes in a questioning manner.

 

I told him I remember my father

asked me once to strangle

a still alive and wounded quail.

 

Growing up I had stolen a few kisses with boys I knew.

 

She handed me back my pants and told me

to get them on.

There would be an investigation.

 

This morning I have read in the papers about your mishap.

 

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A Harvest

 

 

The boy touched the hair on his head and became lonely

for summer. Now it is summer, he thought and it so it was: his skin singing

outside in the shade. He wandered into the woods for comfort. Above of his neck

and below his hair, the boy’s head began to glow. Soon I’ll know my companion,

the boy thought, and the sky shifted as she appeared before him. It was summer:

full season. Soon it began to snow. The boy turned to the girl to help him

build a shelter. In the morning, as they were fashioning their shelter by the river,

the girl took her hair in her hands and said, Your head glows

mornings as mine does. And the boy turned in time to see the knife in her hand,

the clean blade cutting through her hay colored hair, her hair falling into bales

around their feet as she kept cutting, kept the edge angled as one would against a stem,

how it must be like that in order for the flower to breathe, the water unsalted

as the earth below the bales, below the little shelter by the river where the girl

held the boy’s hand before she found the knife he kept inside his shoe. Before now,

before now. How she knew if she kept cutting soon her head would bloom.

And the boy looked on as the feathers of the girl’s skin spread

whitely beneath the eves, the bales of her hair crowding

beside their feet, glowing. As only the head does before the harvest.

As the skin snows when it senses summer will soon turn to fall.

 

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As for Names

 

 

Some are Johns. Or Janes, as some come to see

when sussing out their nouns. Their names. Tags

weary. They hang. There may be something

newly dreary then. As when a hen sends her beak

along to squawk about the maw—a half-cocked yawn—

That’s being fresh. Some days all day is lost

 

in game. John begins to wax

and wanes the night—So light!—away with Jane.

Sex breeds turns. It spurns. A new sheen of wax.

And so up soften some whips, some soap.

Then hope about what stirs. A hex

makes way to John, then Jane, then throughout

 

the day there’s always some soft coming stir.

Shift. Quick. A listing like an itch

wilting behind the hilt. Guilt never comes

slow toward what’s not done. It runs. The chest

brims—such skin!—always for what it is: a teat. Neither

hand nor anything appearing below it. But then again.

 

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In Order

 

 

Until the bottom becomes the top, the boy said, and nothing more than an eggshell.

 

Until we know where the water will go.

 

The water will go into the body, which will become a border, the boy said, which will become then a fact extended between an audience and its country.

 

But we cannot figure, said the audience, how we’re to oppose an entire country.

 

Where do you live, asked the boy.

 

In a country, said the audience.

 

Which is to say you live on a border.

 

And like its border, a country remains always concerned with its origin.

 

Yes, said the boy.

 

Like an egg, said the audience.

 

Like a water, the boy said, which when drunk will only cross the border of the body in order to leave it.

 

Until the bottom becomes the top, there will always be a middle ground, which is to say there will be always a yolk, which we must both agree upon as an evidence of labor.

 

Until it enters the mouth like a pool, the boy said.

 

Like there is too much to take.

 

Like it enters with no plans of escape.

 

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David Welch has recently published poems in AGNI, Indiana Review, and Third Coast. He lives in Chicago.