What I Saw
Plates scattered with the ash of a few
hundred cigarettes, brown bottoms
falling over one another as legs in a mass grave.
Everywhere bottles with the liquor gone
and now carrying some small part of his lips.
Bits of food; crumbs, here or there
a bone, the black residue of condiments gathering
nervous swarms of insects which lifted on clear
wings and settled again from time to time. Flies
made a home too, on his mouth. In it. When they
rose in unison I thought he might have spoken.
One lid hung open, and I remember sometimes
before sleep the way an eye looks
when it no longer sees—as if the world were
unsurprising, colorless, static. I will not
speak of the smell. Only his hands looked
the same, one caught on the taut loop a belt
pushed against, the other reaching still
towards the brown, mottled carpet,
and the upright beer can; red and catching
the fractured sun from the blinds, throwing
it out again to dance against the flat walls.
William Stratton currently lives and write in Newmarket, New Hampshire, where he teaches for the University of New Hampshire. His first full length collection of poetry, Under The Water Was Stone, is due out in May of 2014. His previous publishing credits include: The Cortland Review, 2River, Pif Magazine, Best of Pif Magazine, Untitled Country Review, Spillway, The North American Review, The Lindenwood Review (where his poetry was nominated for a pushcart), and others.