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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 8, Number 1, March 2014

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Charles D. Tarlton
San Francisco, California, USA


Changing Country

tempting roses
sway a blue arm's easy reach

No spiders waiting now, but the torn and ragged webs remember in the yellow-shard corner of the barn's window. Everything wilts to gray—will it rain? How long now before the sun goes down? Small animals creep, halt, and creep still farther back into the shadows.

tousled uncut grasses
stretch up between the broken
pickets, fingers pressed in prayer

see! The sky bleeds
where the sun has streaked through

His harrows were put away for the last time, a long time ago, and the plow rests now, its stilts split from age and long disuse, the disc coulter darkening to orange with rust behind the sagging barn. The ground is hard now, uncut and dry, and the wind steals every day more bits of it away.

and peels the clouds
back, twisting black and red
all along the sharpening ridge

Nearer the highway, gray housing towers, all cinder block and iron roofing, stare vacantly past abandoned fields. The last of the sun touches up their unbroken windows, eager all at once, red-mirrored checkerboards against the coming dark. The past is dead, certainly, and the present dying on the fading light—there is nothing to come.

sun lets go a last
reluctant sigh, maroon sky

The last few observers who had gathered to pronounce their judgment were suddenly inhibited, words failing everyone. I saw only a nodding of sorrowful heads, heard but the clucking of tongues, "too bad, too bad."

thickens to black
night, wisps of cloud disperse
smoke from a snuffed candle

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end

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