13.4 (Summer 2009)   The 2River View AuthorsPoemsPDFMake a bookArchives2River

Christien Gholson

St. Graveyard Shift

Undressing in candlelight, I see the quick shadow-movements of a rock-cleft
Madonna in the corner of the room. Some proto-Mary, flickering through a
series of caves.

At this hour, blue-glint off a black dog's back.

My last boss told me he and his wife sometimes scattered cash across their bed,
then fucked. He needed to confess this to me.

At this hour, the charred woman stirs inside her mother.

Every dollar bill I have ever stolen I've pasted onto my bathroom wall. When I
move, I will slip out in the middle of the night, leave the bills behind. The landlord
will spend hours — days — slopping the wall with water, gently peeling one dollar
from another.


They speak to me: The half-eaten chicken wing in its bright red Colonel Sanders
box; the orange polyester shirt discarded on rail-road gravel; the Polaroid nude
tossed from a car window into dry grass; the twisted neck of the coyote on the
road's shoulder.

I hear them scrape across the sand outside the bedroom window at night, mumble
words to songs hundreds of years old. In the morning I sometimes find them hanging
in leftover spider strands stretched between the bleached branches of the dead juniper
in the back yard. They look like empty flies; nothing left but transparent skin.

I bury them. They keep returning. Scattered rust-nails, a wad of used toilet paper,
cigarette butts in tin foil, a black glove. I can feel them out there, hovering near the
ceiling in every bedroom in town where young couples are trying for a kid, impatient
for some seed to take, give them a new body to enter, begin again.

When I walk past the elementary school in town I scan the children's faces on the
playground, look for the ones that made it back in human form. Some point, laugh.
Some run. Either way, I want them to know I know who they are.

Christien Gholson is the author of On the Side of the Crow (Hanging Loose Press 2006)
and the chapbook The Sixth Sense (Modest Proposal Chapbook Series of Lilliput Review 2006).  
His work has appeared in AQR, Big Bridge, Cimarron Review, Ecotone, Mudlark, Santa Fe Poetry Broadside,
Santa Fe Literary Review
, and Sentence, among others. contact