Metal from the Sky

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The Problem – by Mark A. Harrison

Reminded of this one today, hiding with cats in the shade, out of the beautiful baking sun, April masquerading as July.

Metal from the sky
sun-blasted desert on all sides
distant smudge of hills on horizon
dusty roads straight on to eternity
until they melt into the heat
shimmering like water

everything is sweat and dirt
thirst in a parched throat
powerful as the need to breathe
you could walk for miles
before finding a well
yet farmers mist their fields every day
row upon row of sprinklers
a smear of green against the brown/yellow/grey
sucking water from high in the ills
from deep under ground

here one dreams not of opulence and riches
but of a long cold shower
clean sheets not caked with dust
clothes not soaked with sweat
and endless pool of water to drink from
popsicles, ice-cream, fresh fruit, towering trees
a wind that doesn’t sting your eyes.

Metal came from the sky
it might have been a dream, or an hallucination
brought on by loss of blood, dehydration
it might be a meteorite, hurtling from heaven
a car flying off a bridge, to the dry river bed below
a helicopter, against a white sun, in a clear blue sky
or it may be none of these things

it is not always clear
when you meet the man in black
whether he is friend or foe
demon or saviour, killer or healer

maybe he is all of these things
and then, maybe he is just a man
climbing out of his car
scrambling down the side of the ditch
to pull you free from the metal
that surrounds you, crumpled, broken, bleeding
the engine leaking black oil into the sand

You cannot feel the ground beneath you
as he drags you up the hill
lays your head down on the gravel shoulder
you watch, together, as the metal burns
black smoke climbing into the sky.

– T.H. (2008)

Scarecrow’s Dream

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Extent by Mark A. Harrison

Thinking of dusty roads and summer fields on this unexpected summer day in April.

Scarecrow’s Dream / Burnt Sienna

lost in the sunset apparition
a sleek grey bullet like a scar
that never quite healed, he
is looking for the one who will
fill the hollow in his chest
that once was stuffed with straw

now strewn about him, fragments
of a life long forgotten, of a
new field in spring, wet dirt,
runnels of mud and dead grass
the smell of it still lingers in the
back of his throat, rotting
there, and he’s drowning in
acres of quicksand, filling his
ears like cotton until he can no longer
hear the wind that blows through him
no longer feel the nails that hold him
to the wooden cross, or the claws
of crow’s feet on his back

this is the scarecrow’s dream:
running barefoot down a dusty road
each breathe filling him near to bursting
shouting at the sky
singing sobbing howling laughing
a madman clad in sackcloth and ashes
while the fields burn behind him, the
thick smoke climbing up to cover the sun
while all around the starlings wheel and dive,
wheel and dive, like black confetti

– T.H. (2009)

Looking Glass

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Harvest by Mark A. Harrison

looking glass

seven years, they said
she had felt it
a lump of hot lead in her stomach
staring at the broken shards
winking in the sunlight
on the linoleum floor
as the summer breeze
curled the toes of the curtains
teased the hair from her forehead

she could see it laid out before her
a pathway not of yellow bricks
but of shattered glass
down which she must walk barefoot
penance, they had called it
she was only seven years old
she had not understood, then
why people would choose
suffering over happiness
but it wasn’t seven years
that was a butterfly’s lifetime
the forgotten turning of a season
a minor fling, compared
to what followed after

she watched wonder falter
death by stagnation
the loss of surprise
a series of slow, dull cuts
she had thought the edges
would be sharper
that there would be more blood
she thought, they must
have meant dog years
the days counted biblically
(and on the seventh
she would rest…)

the cup fell
in the twentieth year
she is washing dishes
on a cold, grey day
when it slips from her hand
it explodes on impact
as if it were made
not of faded red porcelain
but something far more volatile
she stares down at the winking shards
and begins to laugh

in that moment, awakening
fills her like an unexpected sunrise
she sweeps the pieces
into a cracked plastic dust-pan
it was there all along
(a side-path, hidden beneath
a thicket of weeds and brambles)
now all she has to do
is choose
to take it.

– T.H.

one of those things

Sometimes I wonder
if the filter
in my bottle
really does anything
Or if it’s like
that red button
at the traffic light
or on the elevator panel
that does
absolutely
nothing
the embodiment
of the placebo effect
in action.
Sometimes I wonder
if that’s what life is
one big trick
one long con
all of us deceiving ourselves
Falling
and forgetting
to hit the ground.

Prophet

BeeOnDandelion

Photo by Mark A. Harrison

prophet

the bees are gathering
in the honey kitchen
up on the roof
the buzzing hum of it
fills her ears like sand
she shudders in her sleep
dreams of drowning in sweetness

meanwhile, in Elysium,
snow-covered streets
claim the ocean floor
a submerged amber flash

they are coming
cutting through snowdrifts
scattering nests and tiny bones

pink skeins twine
around her outstretched fingers
cognizant only
of what the future holds
the present forgotten
subsumed
in the elephant’s graveyard

some say she waits for
the end of the world
but I know she waits only
for you

-T.H.