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James Valvis

Image Credit: Michael Cory

The Hole

I looked when we buried you.
Should have never done that.
Now I know how far away you are.
How deep in the earth you dropped.
Must have been fifteen, twenty feet.
Low enough to bury mom on top.
The fall was enough to kill a man.
I felt ill while looking in the hole.
Sometimes I think of you down there.
All that dirt and distance between us.
Just like when you were here.

The Books in His Library



He stares at them, spine after spine,
and wonders, why do they stick around?
Surely by now they must understand
he does not intend to read any of them.
And all those women he let slip away—
that he thought he was too serious for
or lost to pen a few flabby paragraphs—
where are they now? And with whom?
Well, at least they knew how to take a hint
because women are smarter than sonnets,
as Shakespeare would surely admit,
if he wasn’t busy shouldering Tolstoy
into the also too-verbose Joyce Carol Oates.
He pulls down a book, shoves it right back,
runs his fingers down the row of spines
like a piano player finishing with a flourish.
He’s spent a lifetime building this library,
so many shelves, so many volumes,
page after page of words, words, words,
when the only one that lasts is goodbye.







Chained to a pole
He ran back and forth
In a wide semi-circle
Each time he saw us
Digging his claws in
Churning the dirt
No grass would grow
Anywhere he ran
When he died we buried
Him right in the middle
Of the smile he made
On the lawn of our lives

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