“Shooting the Breeze” and “Chiaroscuro”

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“Shooting the Breeze” and “Chiaroscuro”

by Edison Jennings
Southern Cultures, Vol. 11, No. 3: Fall 2005

"Only later would I learn / about the great-winged vultures the long-gone pharaohs deified. . ."

Shooting the Breeze

Aloof and aloft, the buzzards circled the farm,
and we would shoot at them, to no effect,
small guns popping, round after round.
Did we know better?
We were thirteen and had guns.
Maybe small guns, but big enough, if we could only hit one,
to blow a hole in any bird that fed on carrion.
Still, we wondered
silently, how they rode the breeze forever,
as if sanctified.
Only later would I learn
about the great-winged vultures the long-gone pharaohs deified,
and even later, Dante’s dreadful song to death,
how it undoes so many,
and from a P-3’s vantage point,
watch Beirut burn and learn at last, I too was charmed,
flying circles, like an icon.

 

Chiaroscuro

for John Jennings

The muffled pull and puff of breath, the soft
insistence of his need, dispel my dreams
and I wake up
as swaths of headlights sweep
my wife and child, composed into one shape,
gigantic night
rebounding through the room
while they lie still, curled on the cusp of sleep,
mouth to breast and filling god with god.

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