Poetry from Web Del Sol

The Poetry of Joan Houlihan

Stark, North of Gainsboro

His body follows its shrunken pattern
and specification: he is placed in the final chair;
he is clapped with heat along the landscape
of his skin. Each carpal of his wrist
quickly cracks to tinder-sticks.

All that we can do, is done:
the strapping and jolting, the ceremonial
drubbing; even mummery and finger-play
behind his volted head. We hose him
as we would a tree, wrinkled and run deep

with char. The body, pinned and porous, shivers,
briefly sways, as if a damaged wall is lightly pushed.
Empty-handed and incarnate, he is taken like a pet
and carried with his head cupped from behind.
Look on him. He is always ours, and cold.