The 2River View 19.2 (Winter 2015)

Mark Schoenknecht

Dream Poem: Of Driving a Red Convertible with the Queen
of the Underworld as My Passenger

When I ask her to tell me about Hell,
She shakes back her Bette Davis-style hair
And describes the circle
Reserved for those who never learned to dance,
How they’re hanged from nooses
To sway and kick for eternity.

This is her way of saying that the disco is a must tonight,
That she didn’t come all the way to Cleveland just to sit around acting dead.

But then the rains begin,
The flesh of her human form
Washing away
Until all that’s left is a skeleton
With an ash-blonde wig
And sequined gown.

I drop her off at the abandoned subway station on West 25th Street,
And she begins her descent down the crumbling stairs toward home.

O Death, my queen. Sister.
How long did I ignore your calls?
I leave my window open tonight,
For the screams of tires
Far off on Interstate 90.

Inside the Hoophouse

Red-winged blackbirds
Falling from the sky over Beebe, Arkansas.
No one could explain what caused it.
Shoveling bird carcasses
From the garden,
Piling them
By the dozen
Into a bucket
Or wheelbarrow.

I continue my work,
Ripping out the sections of chard
The beetles have already eaten,
Trying to save what good harvest is left,
While raindrops break against the plastic canopy,
Sounding like the wings
Of a thousand birds taking flight.
I hold one of the plants up to the tarp overhead,
Inspecting it, careful,
As the tatters of a crushed wing.

Mark Schoenknecht holds a BA in English from Michigan State University and an MA in English from the University of Massachusettes—Boston. Schoenknecht has worked a variety of part-time, hourly jobs while focusing on writing poetry. contact

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