Day of the Dead: a Poem

Day of the Dead: a Poem

It’s become a regular thing for us to free-write at our semi-weekly meetings. We often choose several words randomly out of books, usually just by pointing at a page. The words for this poem were [machine, skeleton, breakfast, accident, engine]. Where do poems come from? Who knows, but I’m particularly proud of this one. I did a little bit of editing after the meeting: took out a lot of gerunds (-ing nouns), replacing some adjectives, tidying up some of my punctuation, but overall, the feel and the theme of the poem are the same as when I wrote it. I hope you enjoy it. Please leave your thoughts in the comments!

Day of the Dead

Gears grind

Smoke fills the air

The people scatter

And the fire glows

The coals burn hot

The bellows bow in and out

The man digs his shoulders

The shovel scrapes the earth

Moving amongst the belts and wires

Shadows melt and reappear

While the heat builds, wavers.

Windows high above

Show the night sky, its blue-black

Scrubbed and grey, a few stars peek from behind the smoke

The constellations are skeletons of their former selves

Swirling in the sky and nearly collapsing

Sugar skulls for Day of the Dead,

They lick the ash from the moon as they travel by

On their way west

They will eat a breakfast feast:

Brunch with the saints.

The stars depart as the sun struggles over the cloud-choked horizon

Dragging itself home like an old, accident-prone alley cat

Who can’t quite find its feet—instead takes a tumble before slinking across the sky

And we, the night shift, the machine,

the parts of the machine, the engine and its pistons,

The cogs and the coal,

Stumble to the nearest bar for steak and eggs and a cold High Life beer;

Sold on the dream that we won’t hold, the machine that runs us instead.


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