Two Poems – by David E. Poston

My Neighbor, Three Sheets in the Wind, Leads Us in Prayer

under what’s left of
the lightning-split Bradford pear
in my shadowy front yard

after the thirty shots that ripped open
the night two hours ago

after Teddy has staggered out,
storm door glass shattering at his touch

after the neighbors huddled together
in the street have looked down and seen
the .223 shell casings scattered
all around our feet

after the yellow tape has been wrapped
around the little white fence at the end
of my driveway and the uniforms
have been replaced by black shirts
and khakis with little notebooks
in their hip pockets

after the EMTs who came in hot
have driven away without lights
or siren and the last sobbing relative
has been helped to her feet

before we retreat behind our
own doors, he wants us to join hands
and pray

so we do, three men
in the only context we would
hold hands with one another,
as he sputters along
for ten minutes

until finally, as I reach up to
pat his shoulder and gently try
to amen us out of our misery,
he figures out that drunk or sober
he’ll never find enough words
for this



the way my friend Terry says
her hair is going to grow back red
after the chemo

the way reading Philip Larkin never fails
to unfrown my face

the way Lace writes Hello! in the middle of her essay
because Hello! it’s obvious

the way the venerable B.B. King held communion
with Bono at Sun Studio in Memphis
and blessed the lyrics of
“When Love Comes to Town”

the way Patty and I turned the bedcovers down
in one easy motion each night
and back again each morning

the way poems come alive in front of an audience—
when Ted crumples each page and tosses it away
when Devona weeps
and Shane’s eyes sweep the room
and Morgan reads each page
as if it’s burning in her hands

the way an audience comes alive
when the slam-master, Bluz, invokes the breath of life,
calls for the spirit inside inspiration
to storm the microphone

the way every poem
can be
a blessing

the way words bring us
through suffering
to love


David E. Poston lives in Gastonia, North Carolina. His poetry collections are My Father Reading Greek, Postmodern Bourgeois Poetaster Blues, which won the North Carolina Writers’ Network’s Randall Jarrell/Harperprints Chapbook Competition, and Slow of Study (Main Street Rag, 2015). His work has appeared recently or is forthcoming in moonShine Review, The Broad River Review, Kakalak Anthology of Carolina Poets, Crack the Spine, and The Well-Versed Reader.