Old Joe's Dying Chord

Now the harrowed time when death denied
Can only haunch and hunker still as mud, biding

Track walking at two a.m. no train in sight singing
Yes it's me and I'm in love again, ain't had no loving 
Old Joe Brown, skunk-drunk, hollers once,
Cascades down the swale, thudding and a-grabbing

Mason jar decants, xylophoning against willow roots,
Shatterglasses versus (against) a granite formation

Ford truck rut-rattling down the fen road, thunders by,
Loose tailpipe clanging like a cowbell orchestra

Don't see nothing, keeps motoring,
Locomotive whistle-scuds along the track at swale-top

A score of feet above Old Joe, chugging his blues
Cow catcher leading the engine through the fog on the slow

Blue tick hound coming round searching out his master
Sniffing and a-snorting follows the rail toward Miss Billie's

Skitters down the swale where Joe is stewing, stove and 
Bent, cussing low and moanful, don't know what he is 

That dog settles in, waiting for the old man to move,
Keeping death sucking smoke at least until tomorrow. 

(First published in The Blue Mountain Review - 2020)

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