Forrest Rapier’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Asheville Poetry Review, Best New Poets, Denver Quarterly Review, Texas Poetry Review, Waccamaw, and Greensboro Review among others. He has received fellowships from BOAAT, Sewanee Writer’s Conference, and has also held writing residencies at the University of Virginia and Brevard College.
Marsh Harbor Drive
Oftentimes, we were silent with our wisdom
As we had almost nothing-in-common,
Except our daily bananas and black
Seattle’s Best brew murmuring in mugs.
I’d sit silent as a boy in a graveyard,
Silent as a cork in a wine bottle;
A ruby within the crust of the earth.
Neither of us knew the separate cancers
Multiplying ravens in our bodies.
Through his giant mantlepiece windowpane
We’d watch golfers shank-right from the tenth-tee
And he’d be re-washing cucumbers, navel
Oranges, green grapes—he’d off-himself
Into scorching voids of anarchic blabber.
From his sofa-wheelhouse, my captain’d yaw
“The peaches’ve gone…” and his voice trailed-off—
His words were like seabirds in sudden wind;
I should’ve listened. Should’ve followed their flock
Somewhere distant. My Florida-days were heat-
Stroke wrapped-in a fever blanket—my father-
Myth was in-remission. He’d be washing
Peaches while hornets spat mud-dens above
The attic—this house is cursed, but no one
Listens. When he first moved-in, he went away
On business. I came back from Tallahassee
Love-stoned with Lindsey Massey. Nobody home,
But something’s missing. We walked inside
The hall as shadows skirted inside of mirrors.
At first, it was just a trick of the light;
Things like this happened every night.
Massive, bloody lizards turned-up gutted,
Strewn across his driveway. Ospreys nested
In dead tree nooks behind the house:
When the eggs hatched, shrieking
For piecemeal, red drum fish scraps
Went on for hours. They’d never shut up.
Light bulbs burned-out if you whispered a hint
About leaving, like the sockets were listening.
Seasons of bitching, hurricanes brewing,
His wife grew fat, sharp-tongued, and unforgiving.
First-people-of-this-swampland lay buried
Beneath the foundation—each room housed
An angry, unborn child; they hung-in-corners
Like floating corncob-dolls. Oftentimes, he was silent,
Floating-in-bourbon on a freighter called Regrets.
He never uttered any semblance of fear, but he
Reeked of sleep. I’d sit, quiet as a hurt child
Watching crows rip apart a scarecrow in a barren
Wheat field—silent as a silo in a blizzard.
Golfers were hitting right-hooks at a dog’s
Leg in a big-bog of cancerous people
While orange-skyburst juice fattened
Beneath a melting-Florida absinthe-sundown.
Fathermyth of subdivisions, lemon trees
And dolphin-vision; familiar-stranger
Penciling names at the Gate of Waves,
Do you recognize the people you made?
We washed your peaches, baked your chickens.
Split your avocado through to the pit—we buried
Your chewed-on bones, fed your gods who
Hid someplace, gone way above the trees.
Brown bears stalk where rivers talk;
Where birch bark’s clawed, they’ve made
Their mark—where long corn wind-bends.
Wolves will walk where forests break,
But will this bog warp by any force
Other than fire? Questions torrent,
Fall red leaf to black dirt, leaves no one
Certain of anything, except impending star-chart
Arguments over annual-signals from the dead.
Fatherbeast Ending with Tripwire
My fatherbeast loses his place.
Ultraviolet waves scramble, then peace;
winter lurks behind her polar beast.
Brambles thrash bare against
a sheaf of reaped wheat—quiet.
He craves the baseless-fierce logic
screeching out of doll-face show hosts.
Near Vesuvius, charcoal skies thirst a quilt
of cloverfields for his volcanic-brainchild—he plays
where dragonlilies gander on creek-fed hillocks,
where wheat stalks split families to glean
seed from their dreams. He lays his life
below a soot cloud where aqueducts are a dying art,
where anthropologists disturb the brothel-dead
one-thousand years after the eruption.
What I mean to say: his lava-mind bubbles
forever-invisible beneath the surface—he’s given me
the inherent-tendency to meltdown,
then shake the earth with my naked-eye.
His words are like spears carved-from-the-bark-of-an-Ash.
I reckon with gods from a watertower balcony. My fatherbeast
argues acid rain from his lazy-chair, tongues entire
encyclopedias, then sorts the volumes onto skyscraper-bookshelves
battled for like a lake town in a desert war—his words were tough
to hear. I didn’t want to go through the minefield;
the older kids dared me.
Fatherbeast as Goosebumps and Haint Blue
Wildcats hiss behind the outhouse
back door, and the overgrown blackgrass
could outshine tonight with all her whiskers
and wild-eyes. The evening was a warm skillet
frying stars to pop out like hot grease on a fish.
Goosebumps tick behind your ear like ghost
breath, baby’s breath softening the locust
humdrum, or you’re afraid to light a candle
because of what might appear in your mirror.
You saw the spoon move by itself
across the tablecloth like a string
tied-to-a-tooth, slammed into next
week. This house is not your house
—this Geechee land, honey.
Dehydrated twin brothers wash ashore
an Italian beachhead—almost lifeless,
they’re babbling of goddesses, hanging
gardens where the sunfruit was big as boulders.
They’ve seen juice worlds and barely remember
how they survived sailing through a cyclone.
Where the boat capsized, how many were aboard.
Hovering Gatekeepers flew down to steady
all the seas around them—rambling of saviors, again
they go. How God sent angels
riding gryphons to the middle of the ocean.
Silly how we give the wounded trauma
blankets, chocolate bars and scuba tank air;
honestly, they need notebooks and ballpoint pens.
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