POETRY by Kevin Heaton


He Called My Mother Sister

Life was rough at grandpa’s; He had more kids than dollars,

and moved from house to house faster than The Children

of Israel fled Pharaoh in the desert.

He was an old horse tradin’ swap fox, who once traded

a week of his life for four tree-whipped coonhounds,

and an Essex four door stuck in reverse; which he promptly

backed over one of his kids. A mellow sort of fellow,

and slow to anger.

The furthest he ever traveled was uptown to the Farmers

and Drovers Bank corner on Saturday nights to chat,

or to the banks of the Neosho; where his pal, Punkin’ Duncan

lived in a clapboard shack with no paint. The two of them

would flush down donuts with black chicory, and impale

foot long nightcrawlers on fish hooks to dance

the burlesque for old whiskered flatheads.

Life was rough at grandpa’s; for dinnerwar, and cutlery

there was: one plate, a cup, a knife, and one fork, rinsed

and shelved in the sink. In bountiful times: there were always

plenty of commodity eggs, cheese, and peanut butter

to compliment a steamer full of greens, and store-bought

roll paper to set beside two holes in the three-holer.

Salems were his brand of choice and never far away

from a grateful, toothless lover’s kiss. If he ever had a tooth,

I never saw it. The kids once bought him a pair of hand carved

chompers, which he promptly interred in a bureau top drawer;

permanently divorced from his gums.

For a time, he lived in a 12’ x 60’ along the tracks, and when

the Katy flew by, and blew her horn; you could swear

it was Gabriel calling down the rapture, and you’d been left



God unzipped a rainbow:

the show was about to begin.

I pulled my chair to within six

feet of the Lantana camara,

and breathed, motionless.

The first band of celestial magic

dust descended upon autumn,

transforming falling leaves

into tiger swallowtails; morphing

in midair. They fluttered to earth

as guardian angels hovering over

the leafy pot 0’gold before

me, paying homage to sweet

umbel sugar nectar. With each

flick of the heavenly scepter,

a new variation and color dubbed

my dainty revelers; casting them

in varying roles: swallowtails

transfigured into peacock pansys

spreading fancy at approbation.

Birdwings threw butterfly kisses

to painted ladies concealing common

leopard stripes with neopolitan talcum.

Each, slowly rotating within

the kaleidoscope, as I gazed into

it; transfixed and awestricken.

The Pool of Bethesda

At the union of two rivers,

legacy wed kindness, giving

rise to a serene, healing

stream of new life flowing

through desert sands of human

thirst, into a Bethesda

pool of second chances

for souls enslaved to masters

of malady and hopelessness,

cleansing open sores of living.

Beyond shorelines of affliction;

remedy appeased fevers

of suffering, and parched,

blistered flesh received

the healing balm of compassion.

            Be Still And Know



          the enchantment

                of woodland      serenity.


        the newborn fawn      unwind

                the umbilical     embrace

                  and take her         stand.


             that all you are,

           is not all there is.

Wind Chimes

a baby’s breath

cannot purify

winds of compromise,

nor indemnify


but applied to chimes

in innocence;

may pierce the pall

of sorrow, and bestow

welcome solace

upon the sound

of tears.

Laying on of Hands

Harvest suffering with yielded fingers

immersed in compassion

appeasing travail           forsaking agony.

Recall impies of war from Achilles


dispersing angry throngs of demons

loosed to torment before

                                    the chosen time

injecting ampules of healing

into veins of sympathy in atonement;

assuaging cruel injustice

                                   for mercies sake.

Flint Hills Rider

Pasture gates swing wide, and cattle

guards part like a Red Sea: Flint Hills

Rider makes his rounds astraddle

old Smoke Signal, riding lookout

in vision quests, keeping vigil

over revenant spirits still roaming

native lands forever purged of man’s

curse and consequence; sentenced

to eternal penitence for deeds undone.

Guardian of phantoms exterminated

by his own people’s blind greed

and lust for land, protecting wispy

prairie souls from a second extinction

at scarlet hands of flesh.

Bones of first ones, resurrected

for the hunt, allow him passage

through sacred ground, to scout

the good trail to herds of white

buffalo, across The River Styx;

into valleys of the shadow of death.

From saddle bags laden with stars,

he casts sparkles at eternal

darkness, and sips chicory round

the warmth of hallowed embers;

serenaded by chuck-wills-widow.

Kevin Heaton



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