She sees vaccines and illusions
riding downtown curbs,
city night balanced
along the edge of a duotone slant,
moon pulling shadows across current,
spotlights revolving below a dome
capped with silvered contrails. Loss
tattooed on the wing of a dream
let to fly. She walks beside a river wall
to the peace garden, haiku in stone
rooted in nuclear war.
A tug boat plies upriver, lone deckhand
near the bow, incurable eyes sweeping
a rectangle of sky as trucks throttle
down bridge slopes.
Bridge legs collecting shadows
as she traces carved letters a mile
beyond the work-week’s spinal taps.
Tough to be solo amid these weekend couples.
Flaring colors across fresh canvas after
a wreck in the same town is hard work,
the promises given in that dream
echo inside memory.
She pivots away from laughter,
dank cloth of hot summer on her arms
and legs, gaze snagged
on an initialed bench.
The deep blue flags of dusk unfurl
above happy hour at Joe’s Cellar,
bar mirror catching
the eyes ready
to spout embers, the eyes
This factory worker tossing back
the grease of cheap whiskey,
pumping work-born pains
into marrow, chipped knuckles
wrapped around bottle necks,
shoulders releasing cargo,
juke box singer leaving
his heart on a hill.
En Route to a Reunion
Twilight returns to its holy scar.
Locomotive pulling north to where the scent
of fur is carried on a glacier’s tongue,
impossibly delicate starlight strung
forest to field behind open boxcar doors.
The red embers of animal eyes
reflecting iron passage, moon
plants quivers of blue silver inside forest.
Veteran on the small platform facing north,
swearing his oaths, breath fogs staccato
into a gray stream taken by wind.
Adjusting his top coat, he’s ready to parade
having survived another memory
as snowfall’s white silence
dissolves the membranes
of an inhaled pace.
The hidden moon does send envoys
carrying white feathers, conditional
easements granted below blue-gray memories
of loves. He allows his remaining hope
to mine the shadow of a promise
as winter digs into his lungs.
Born and raised in Charleston, S.C., moved to Chicago, educated at red-bricked universities and on city streets, Charles Thielman has enjoyed working as a truck driver, city bus driver and enthused bookstore clerk. His chapbook “Into the Owl-Dreamed Night” is available through Uttered Chaos Press at www.utteredchaos.org.