Poems by Doug Holder

Change My Breath

The sardines
Sliding in oil
A dash of mustard
A delicious hot dollop
My tongue
Ravished
By horseradish.
It dances
Like a flapper
Across my teeth.

Now change
My breath
My love
Before we kiss
Sometimes I think
All things so sweet
Will inevitably stink.

The Suburbs 1962

Mom
a gurgling scream
from the backyard.
Something had invaded
the Lilly of the Valley
penetrated the well-trimmed hedges,
had tread on
the impossibly green
carpeted lawn.

Undoubtedly
a monster
something of that ilk
that lurked under my bed
a nocturnal nightmare
escaping to daylight
something one-eyed
requisite tentacles
in a fury of suction
and destruction.

I watched
the diminutive black man
tumble through
a tangle of lawn chairs
falling at the pit of the barbecue.

My father and his friend
took their cue
whisking him away
white knights saving the day
whisking a spec of dirt
form the dreamy illusion
of our summer day.

**** Previously published in the Muddy River Poetry Review

It Is Late and the Fruit is Bad

It is late at night
and the fruit
has gone bad.
Its bruises remind me
of all of life’s hamfists
and the things
I never had.

I take its flesh
deep into my mouth
digest the ferment
of its rotten skin
cut the lights
in respect
for the state I’m in.

**** Previously published by the Lummox Press.

Disappearing From the Block

I used to see my old typist
her nimble fingers gnarled
her face twisted
to a rude left angle
shuffling down School St.
her head bent
talking to the pavement
that she still freelanced.

That couple
joined at the hip
the smiles always in unison.
Just yesterday
I saw him
in a distant
part of town
a vacant stare
with the early
morning addicts
his wife clipping weeds
and the bare and brittle
branches
in their garden.

The feral cat
fattened on sparrows
plug ugly, defiant,
unrepentant
the milk is frozen in his saucer
the litter
unstained.

So many
have disappeared
from my block
as my clock
scats it insistent
” Tick-Tock”

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