THINGS SEEN
IN GRAVEYARDS


______________________________________________

THE TURK’S MAUSOLEUM

    IN monochrome Mt. Auburn
          amid the pallor
     of marble and alabaster,
     ice pond and snow,
     there is one burst of manic color:
   
a Turkish rug merchant's
           mausoleum,
     hung with a brilliant
     tapestry,
     sunlit from doorglass
     showroom bright.

His favorite Bokhara?
His last request
to keep it from Omar,
his rival, or Habib,
the brother he hated?

Or a ghoulish invite
to grave robbers?
Once in, the door slams shut,
and like a djinn, he rises.
Thieves have to hear
his well-oiled patter,
hours of rug talk,
gossip about the Iranians,
complaints about the
cheap carpets from China
that will be the death of him —

What business here
if you're not a buyer?


 

SACRIFICE

Before a cenotaph
in civilized Mt. Auburn,
we come upon
a desiccated squirrel,
his eyes a maggot nest,
his mouth
a frozen scream —

someone tore out his heart
and made him an offering
on the monument’s steps,
legs extended
     into a blasphemous cross,
his vacant rib cage
crying “Murder!”


 

NIGHT WALKER

 STILL IN HER NIGHTGOWN,
     the wiry old woman,
     nearly a skeleton in satin,
     sleepwalked through lawns,
     onto a well-known path
     passing her mother’s grave,
barefoot between the Civil War cannons,
out the back gate,
then down the slope to the river.

Imagine her walk,
untouched by thorn and burr,
oblivious to gravel,
then over rail and tie
without a splinter,
then gravel again,
then down the steep bank
to the summoning waters!
(Silt, fish, flotsam flow
from Youghigheny to Gulf —
how far might she go?)

Cats she’d once fed
watched from the dark
of rhododendrons,
   but did not go to her.
I saw her, too,
    mute and astonished
as she passed the monument
where I had just recited Ulalume

The cold chill current
did not awaken her,
lifted her up from her wading.
Weeds and crayfish
merged with her streaming hair.

She sank, her gown
a luminescent ribbon,
pulsing like a jellyfish,
for an instant ageless,
Ophelia or water nymph,
Rhine Maiden, Lorelei,
sparked like an electric eel,
and then the water
was black on black.
Her life dissolved
in unseen bubbles.

Who beckoned her?
What star deluded her?
What long-dead lover
    called from the mud
    of the river bottom?


 

NIGHT SHIFT

At two in the morning
three men pry the door off
of a well-kept mausoleum.
Their pickup truck,
concealed in moon-shadow,
idles. I smell, from my hiding place,
     the acrid exhaust,
yew scent invaded by tailpipe vapors.
        They grunt
as a crowbar twists
the iron of a rusted lock.
One man advances
into the dead space,
stands with head bowed
as though in prayer,
     or hesitation.

The moon’s full beams
illumine the chamber,
the urn, the wall plaques,
     a wreath
of shriveled camellias.
He waves the others in.
They shake their heads,
     don’t want to do
whatever it is they are doing.
He puts his hands
     on their shoulders,
reminds them
of whatever it was
they promised.

He draws them in.
Together, they push aside
a stone sarcophagus lid.
They make a sickened groan,
spit epithets
in a language I do not
recognize.

They lift, drag something heavy
along the floor,
lift into pickup,
cover with tarp.

One man bends over,
heaves gobbets of puke
at the road’s edge.
The other just laughs,
moves to the yew shrubs,
to relieve himself.
He trembles, though,
     as he sprays the leaves.
Inches away, I hold my breath.
He staggers back, oblivious.

The truck pulls forward,
headlights doused.
The three men,
packed tight in the truck cab,
share a whisky bottle,
light one another’s cigarettes,
wipe their hands on their
red plaid hunting jackets.
They watch for a long time,
wait for an interval
when no headlight is visible
anywhere, then race
for the gate and the streets beyond.

The door is left open,
   the crypt a shambles:
the open hole, wood fragments,
what might be someone’s blood,
the broken lock.
I read the woman’s name,
   Hungarian, I think,
   and her chronology —
   oh, a ripe one! —
     ten years dead,
ten years to the day.


 

TRYSTING PLACE

IN AUGUST HEAT
    the fraternity boy
 slips out of his shorts,
    slides to the warmth
    of his eager girlfriend.
   They lay on a pioneer grave,
     beach towel on a flat shale-stone,
   the lap of lake water
matching their rhythms.

Between the rising and falling
     as he stops
     to tease her wanting,
he reads the stones,
     lit up as headlines
     by the leering moon,
whispers inscriptions like names
of other women, better lovers:
   Jeanette...Sarah...Abigail.

The carpet of grass
seems to undulate.
The lake pulls back its waves,
the sky careens
above the maples.
He feels a host of faces
crowd inside him,
their compound anima
a cauldron of passions.

A diaphanous spinster
     clicks tongue
     against skull-teeth.
An ectoplasmic virgin
     blushes,
averts her empty
     eye sockets,
yet peeks through
double-skeleton finger fence.
A headless bosom
     envelops him.
Another’s tree-root hunger,
roiling amid worms and centipedes,
rakes prickle-nails across his back,
     says  Love me! —
     Not her! — Me!

He stands — he screams —
his seed arcs out,
     a liquid aurora,
     dappling the grass
     in its fall.

“Someone — people —
     lots of them — watching!”
     he tells her.

Half-dressed, half trailing
jean shorts and underwear, they run
from the peeping ghosts,
the knowing grass,
the listening night.


MIDSUMMER NIGHT

I am well-met by moonlight:
Bats line the graveyard trees,
   hanging from pine and maple boughs.
   Not hundreds of bats,
          but thousands —

Their slant inverted eyes regard me.
In their world I’m the strange one,
   a two-leg walker
     stuck to the ground,
dim-sighted, inarticulate,
deaf to their ultrasonic Sanskrit.

I love their wingbeats, their
startled flight when I clap my hands —
their comradeship for my monologues,
their brotherly listening —

And though they darken the trees
so the beacon moon,
the stars cannot intrude,

fireflies assemble
like landing lights,
my faerie pathway clearly marked

into the grove and the elder gravestones,
out to the lake and the quiet streets,
or — to nowhere
I can remain as their midsummer king,
a willing captive of Mab or Oberon,
regent of their passing luminance,
crowned in an aureole of foxfire

for this night of nights,
      summer’s briefest,
its joys paced frenzied, feverish,
from long-drawn dusk till teasing dawn
when batwings fold invisible
into the foliage and the ill-met
day people rise from their beds,
cock-crow and assume their power.

Keep me now and forever,
     thou sable Night!


WEST POINT

At West Point Cemetery
I come upon the grave,
the mass grave of cadets
who went half-trained
to a Mexican slaughter.
They lie in their shrouds,
     their dress blues,
     buttons polished,
     shoes immaculate;
laid gently like babes
     in a playpen,
side by side in a chaste
     embrace,
stacked up like logs
     for a burning,
smothered with loam and tears.

This ground is covered
     with yellow wood sorrel
the clover-like leaves for Luck
the frail blond flowers for Beauty
the persistent roots for Strength

I tear a stalk and taste
     its lemon flavor,
chewing it slowly —
not some pasty communion wafer
but a Host sublimed of flesh,
of hair and bone and marrow;
not some dark wine fermented
by yeast in Original Sin,
but dew and rain and root-sap
drunk from the lips of the grave.


JUDGE HATHORNE'S GRAVE, SALEM
 

AT SALEM
    the burying ground
     is a garden of stones,
     an orchard of oaks.
     Acorns burst to grow,
   tombstones erase
their shallow tattoos,
becoming anonymous —
Death’s heads
and angel wings,
bad poems
consumed by moss,
the promise of Heaven
like Confederate money.

Still there is some
justice — an oak trunk
engulfs the stone
of a solemn Puritan,
roots clinging like
rabid dogs.

He doomed the innocent
as witches and wizards,
to infamy and hanging,
to a farmyard burial
in family shame.

Imagine this —
his grave invaded
by inexorable roots,
the frail box split,
his gradual awakening
as vampire tendrils
invade his ears,
his mouth, his nostrils,
the circling of taproot
to snap his neck,
his arms and legs
broken and useless.

Doomed to immortal
consciousness
(the Life Eternal!),
nerves and ganglia
a web of pain receptors/

An old woman
condemned him to this.
She spoke the words
on a Candlemas midnight,
took from the hanging tree
where her mother’s mother
died innocent,
the patient acorn of revenge.

She wrote his name on it,
pushed it with thumb
into the loam of his grave,

traced runes in blood
upon his stone,
danced the wild dance
of his resurrection —

sang things that the wizened
old ladies of Salem never knew

as there were no witches
in Salem
then.


 

THE FORGOTTEN GRAVESTONE

At Swan Point:
a level stone is engulfed
by soil and grass.
It settled, perhaps,
or a careless groundsman
neglected it.

Most of the name is gone,
and half the date.
Earth closes around it
like a healing wound.
There must be no family left,
no friends to make worried
inquiries at the cemetery office.

Perhaps he lived abroad,
fought an unpopular war,
was disinherited,
suffered excommunication,
the village homosexual,
married a foreigner,
died in a prison,
drooling lobotomized
in a madhouse,
morphined in an alley

or perhaps, he was a poet.


 

THE SWAN POINT GHOUL

Two months have passed
since I stood here,
in magic circle at the Old Gent’s
grave, honoring Lovecraft.
The place I chose to stand on —
an older plot by a pine tree —
has dropped by a foot or more,
its earth a moil of root-turn,
brown against green
of surrounding sod.

Did the coffin collapse,
   or was it removed
      by something
      that tunnels
beneath the gravebeds? —

some necrophagic mole-man,
sharp claws on spatulate fingers,
red eyes sheathed in reptile layerings,
teeth jagged and piercing,
its sense of smell infallible,
burrowing from vault to tomb,
to late night lap of pond water,
to daylong sleep in a bat cave.

Even as we stood here,
   speaking our words of praise,
   reading our innocent poems,
did March earth muffle
   the splinter of casket
   the tear of cloth,
the insistent feeding
of the Swan Point ghoul?


 

HART ISLAND

 FERRY CUTS FOG
    in Long Island Sound,
    baleful horn bellowing
                           
    a midnight run
    unblessed by harbor lights,
   unknown to sleeping millions
convicts at the rails,
guards behind them,
dour-faced captain at the helm
    a face and a pipe
    and a dead-ahead glare,
an empty gaze that asks no questions
    offers no advice

A careful mooring,
     cables thicker than hanging noose
     bind ship to pier;
pilings like pagan columns
     bind pier to Hart Island

Convicts shuffle to the end of the dock,
     guards behind them with billy clubs
          hands tensed at holster.
You fellas better behave now,
     the captain mutters,
just do what you’re told.
And no funny business, another voice warns,
’cause anything could happen to you here.

The prisoners shiver at moonless expanse
of blackened water,
dead shell of Bronx one way,
bedrooms of Queens the other;
clap their hands,
blow on their fingers
to fight the chill.

Guess you would freeze, one speculates
before you could swim to shore.

Just do what you’re told,
the biggest con admonishes.
I been here before. Do what
you’re told and then it’s over.
Eager to earn
the early release,
willing to dig
and lift and carry,
they turn to the foreman.
He points to the tarp
    that covers the cargo.

They lift the tiny oblong boxes,
     frail as balsa
         thin pine confining
              the swaddled contents.
What’s in these things?
     one asks, taking on three
         stacked to his chin.
Over there, is all the foreman says,
     pointing to mounds
         where a silent back hoe
             stands sentinel.
These be coffins, the older con explains.
     Baby coffins.

They lower the boxes
     into the waiting holes,
          read the tags attached to them:
BABY BOY FRANKLIN
     CARL HERNANDEZ
          UNKNOWN BABY GIRL, HISPANIC.
The adult coffins are heavier,
    two men at least to carry each one.
They can joke about these:
     Heavy bastard, this Jose.
          Carla here, she musta wasted away.
But no one speaks about the babies.
The convicts’ eyes grow angry, then sad.

Later the mounds will be toppled,
     the soil returned to the holes,
         flattened and tamped
             with a cursory blessing
by an ecumenical chaplain.

These are the lonely dead,
    the snuff-out of innocence:

crack babies
    AIDS babies
          babies dead from drive-by bullets
babies abandoned like unwanted kittens
     dumpster children

No wonder this island cries in its sleep.


 

AFTER THE STORM

DEAD NIGHT.
    I tramp the midnight lane
    of yews and mausoleums.
    The air resounds with muffled cries:
          a cat? a wailing ghost?
     a child abandoned
     to gusts of rain and fatal chill?

I think of Roman fathers
exposing their infants on hilltops —
or, far more likely in this
ignoble time, a furtive birth
dumped from the back of a passing car.

My eye expands into the moonless dark.
I brush against the rain-filled leaves,
push through the hedge
until I find the source:
on a mound where six markers neatly grew
a tree had crashed upon an infant's grave.

Sleep, sorry ghost
from your Indian awakening!
Was it not here the Iroquois
made secret pledges to moon and stars?
Did they not tell of jumbled boneyards
where felling trees brought back the dead —

not whole, but with the jaws and tails
of animals, were-things with fangs
and claws and antlers, hoofed hands
and legs attached at useless angles.
Hence their horror of disturbing bones!

Something ascends before me, a blur
between the graveyard and the pines:
I see the outspread wings of an owl,
the twisted arc of its talons,
but it regards me with a human face,
a tiny death-head in a feather shroud,
withered and wise and ravenous
for the mother-milk of the skies.


THE ARGUMENT

“Two decades ago that scribbler Poe” —
Longfellow smiled and took tea,
— “that jingle writer as Emerson dubbed him,
called us but frogs ’round the Common,
likened our poems to croaking.
Well, he’s dead, and I’m writing still,
and that’s an end to it.”
His auditors nodded, some heavy-eyed,
as the old master recited “Evangeline.”

One sunny day, quite unintending,
I find the old bard’s tomb in Mt. Auburn:
a grassy knoll well fringed with yews,
a stately monument, the letters
L  O  N  G  F  E  L  L  O  W
immense enough for all to read.
But whom should I discover there,
perversely lingering, casting their shadows
upon the stone that weighs the poet’s brow?
Whom but a trio of stately Ravens,
borne on their wings from an unknown shore,
rebutting the graybeard poet’s boast,
ending the argument — forevermore!


AN EXETER VAMPIRE, 1799

SHE COMES BACK,
   in the rain, at midnight.
   Her pale hand, not a branch,
         taps the glass.
   Her thin voice, poor Sarah Tillinghast
         whines and whimpers,
             chimes and summons you
to walk in lightning and will’o wisp
to the hallowed sward of burial ground,
to press your cheek against her limestone,
run your fingers on family name,
to let the rain inundate your hair,
wet your nightclothes to a clammy chill,
set your teeth chattering, your breath a
tiny fog within the larger mist.
You did not see her go before you,
and yet you knew she was coming here.
Soon her dead hand will tap your shoulder.
Averting your eyes, you bare your throat
for her needful feeding, your heat, your
heart’s blood erupting in her gullet.
You will smell her decay, feel the worms
as her moldy shroud rubs against you.
Still you will nurse the undead sister,
until her sharp incisors release you
into a sobbing heap of tangled hair,
your heart near stopped, your lungs exploding,
wracked with a chill that crackles the bones.
The rain will wash away the bloodstains.
You will hide your no more virginal
throat like a smiling lover’s secret.
Two brothers have already perished —
the night chill, anemia, swift fall
to red and galloping consumption.
Death took them a week apart, a month
beyond Sarah’s first night-time calling.

Honor Tillinghast, your stoic mother,
sits in the log house by the ebbing fire,
heating weak broth and johnny cakes.
One by one she has sewn up your shrouds —
now she assembles yet another.
For her there is no peace on this earth,
nor any rest in the turning grave.

Storm ends, and bird songs predict the sun.
Upstairs, in garret and gable dark,
children stir, weak and tubercular,
coughing and fainting, praying for breath.
The ones that suck by night are stronger
than those they feed on, here where dead things
sing their own epitaphs in moon-dance,
and come back, in the rain, at midnight.

_____
Exeter, Rhode Island’s “vampire” case of 1799 ended with the exhumation and destruction of the corpse of Sarah Tillinghast after four siblings followed her in death by consumption. They burned Sarah’s heart and reburied all the bodies.


 

MRS. WEEDEN, OF PAWTUCKET

 SOMEONE EXHUMED
      in dead of night
      heart of Pawtucket,
     blank eyes of empty factories
     the only witnesses,

exhumed Elizabeth Weeden
dead eighty years now —
ripped off the lid
of her sarcophagus,
lifted the coffin
from a trough of water
     (What smells?
          what scraping beneath
               of clawed, albino rats?)

came in a pickup,
     backed over tombstones,
     ripped up the shrubbery
     to get at her—

but nothing went right
     for these amateur ghouls.
The fine box shattered
     like so many matchsticks.
The skull went one way —
     shroud tearing like spiderwebs
     as bones fell everywhere —

not white in the starlight,
     not white in the beams
of their furtive,
     terrified flashlights
but black,
digits and vertebrae,
     femur and ribcage
dark as the quill
of a graveyard crow —

They fled with nothing.
Next day I stand
with a Pawtucket detective
who asks me what sense
I can make of this.

I’m not sure.
But last night was Lovecraft’s birthday.
In his “Reanimator” tale
a man named Ezra Weeden
is the first revived from the dead,
from the “essential salts” in his grave.
Even in sunlight this tomb is hard to read.
It says “E....ZA...  WEEDEN.”

A shard or two of bone remains,
black on the stubborn green of lawn,
and everywhere, in tatters,
fragments of shroud appall the sun:
the color is rust, and brick,
persistence of blood, unclean,
outlasting worm and tree-root,
a color which, once seen,
can never be forgotten.
I do not want to see its like again.

 

 

WEST POINT

At West Point Cemetery
I come upon the grave,
the mass grave of cadets
who went half-trained
to a Mexican slaughter.
They lie in their shrouds,
    their dress blues,
    buttons polished,
    shoes immaculate;
laid gently like babes
    in a playpen,
side by side in a chaste
    embrace,
stacked up like logs
    for a burning,
smothered with loam and tears.
This ground is covered
    with yellow wood sorrel
the clover-like leaves for Luck
the frail blond flowers for Beauty
the persistent roots for Strength
I tear a stalk and taste
    its lemon flavor,
chewing it slowly—
not some pasty communion wafer
but a Host sublimed of flesh,
of hair and bone and marrow;
not some dark wine fermented
by yeast in Original Sin,
but dew and rain and rootsap
drunk from the lips of the grave.


THE FORGOTTEN GRAVESTONE

At Swan Point:
a level stone is engulfed
by soil and grass.
It settled, perhaps,
or a careless groundsman
neglected it.
Most of the name is gone,
and half the date.
Earth closes around it
like a healing wound.
There must be no family left,
no friends to make worried
inquiries at the cemetery office.
Perhaps he lived abroad,
fought an unpopular war,
was disinherited,
suffered excommunication,
the village homosexual,
married a foreigner,
died in a prison,
drooling lobotomized
in a madhouse,
morphined in an alley
or perhaps, he was a poet.


THE SWAN POINT GHOUL

Two months have passed
since I stood here,
in magic circle at the Old Gent’s
grave, honoring Lovecraft.
The place I chose to stand on—
an older plot by a pine tree—
has dropped by a foot or more,
its earth a moil of root-turn,
brown against green
of surrounding sod.
Did the coffin collapse,
  or was it removed
     by something
     that tunnels
beneath the gravebeds?—
some necrophagic mole-man,
sharp claws on spatulate fingers,
red eyes sheathed in reptile layerings,
teeth jagged and piercing,
its sense of smell infallible,
burrowing from vault to tomb,
to late night lap of pond water,
to daylong sleep in a bat cave.
Even as we stood here,
  speaking our words of praise,
  reading our innocent poems,
did March earth muffle
  the splinter of casket
  the tear of cloth,
the insistent feeding
of the Swan Point ghoul?


AFTER THE STORM

Dead night.
I tramp the midnight lane
of yews and mausoleums.
The air resounds with muffled cries:
a cat? a wailing ghost?
a child abandoned
to gusts of rain and fatal chill?
I think of Roman fathers
exposing their infants on hilltops—
or, far more likely in this
ignoble time, a furtive birth
dumped from the back of a passing car.
My eye expands into the moonless dark.
I brush against the rain-filled leaves,
push through the hedge
until I find the source:
on a mound where six markers neatly grew
a tree had crashed upon an infant's grave.
Sleep, sorry ghost
from your Indian awakening!
Was  it not here the Iroquois
made secret pledges to moon and stars?
Did they not tell of jumbled boneyards
where felling trees brought back the dead—
not whole, but with the jaws and tails
of animals, were-things with fangs
and claws and antlers, hoofed hands
and legs attached at useless angles.
Hence their horror of disturbing bones!
 
Something ascends before me, a blur
between the graveyard and the pines:
I see the outspread wings of an owl,
the twisted arc of its talons,
but it regards me with a human face,
a tiny death-head in a feather shroud,
withered and wise and ravenous
for the mother-milk of the skies.


THE ARGUMENT

"Two decades ago that scribbler Poe—"
Longfellow smiled and took tea,
"—that jingle writer as Emerson dubbed him,
called us but frogs 'round the Common,
likened our poems to croaking.
Well, he's dead, and I'm writing still,
and that's an end to it."
His auditors nodded, some heavy-eyed,
as the old master recited "Evangeline."
One sunny day, quite unintending,
I find the old bard's tomb in Mt. Auburn:
a grassy knoll well fringed with yews,
a stately monument, the letters
L  O  N  G  F  E  L  L  O  W
immense enough for all to read.
But whom should I discover there,
perversely lingering, casting their shadows
upon the stone that weighs the poet's brow?
Whom but a trio of stately Ravens,
borne on their wings from an unknown shore,
rebutting the greybeard poet's boast,
ending the argument—forevermore!

 

AN EXETER VAMPIRE, 1799

She comes back, in the rain, at midnight.
Her pale hand, not a branch,
taps the glass.
Her thin voice, poor Sarah Tillinghast
whines and whimpers,
chimes and summons you
to walk in lightning and will’o wisp
to the hallowed sward of the burial ground,
to press your cheek against her limestone,
to run your fingers on family name,
to let the rain inundate your hair,
wet your nightclothes to a clammy chill,
set your teeth chattering, your breath a
tiny fog within the larger mist.
You did not see her go before you,
and yet you knew she was coming here.
Soon her dead hand will tap your shoulder.
Averting your eyes, you bare your throat
for her needful feeding, your heat, your
heart’s blood erupting in her gullet.
You will smell her decay, feel the worms
as her moldy shroud rubs against you.
Still you will nurse the undead sister,
until her sharp incisors release you
into a sobbing heap of tangled hair,
your heart near stopped, your lungs exploding,
wracked with a chill that crackles the bones.
The rain will wash away the bloodstains.
You will hide your no more virginal
throat like a smiling lover’s secret.
Two brothers have already perished—
the night chill, anemia, swift fall
to red and galloping consumption.
Death took them a week apart, a month
beyond Sarah’s first night-time calling.
 
Honor Tillinghast, the stoic mother,
sits in the log house by the ebbing fire,
heating weak broth and johnny cakes.
One by one she has sewn up your shrouds—
now she assembles yet another.
She knows there is no peace on this earth,
nor any rest in the turning grave.
Storm ends, and bird songs predict the sun.
Upstairs, in garret and gable dark,
the children stir, weak and tubercular,
coughing and fainting and praying for breath.
The ones that suck by night are stronger
than those they feed on, here where dead things
sing their own epitaphs in moon-dance,
and come back, in the rain, at midnight.

_____

Exeter, Rhode Island’s "vampire" case of 1799 ended with the exhumation and destruction of the corpse of Sarah Tillinghast after four siblings followed her in death by consumption. They burned Sarah’s heart and reburied all the bodies.


 

MRS. WEEDEN, OF PAWTUCKET

Someone exhumed,
in dead of night
heart of Pawtucket,
blank eyes of empty factories
the only witnesses,
exhumed Elizabeth Weeden
dead eighty years now—
ripped off the lid
of her catafalque,
lifted the coffin
from a trough of water
(What smells?
what scraping beneath
of clawed, albino rats?)
came in a pickup,
backed over tombstones,
ripped up the shrubbery
to get at her—
but nothing went right
for these amateur ghouls.
The fine box shattered
like so many matchsticks.
The skull went one way—
shroud tearing like spiderwebs
as bones fell everywhere—
not white in the starlight,
not white in the beams
of their furtive,
terrified flashlights
but black,
light-sucking black,
digits and vertebrae,
femur and ribcage
dark as the quill
of a graveyard crow—
They fled with nothing.
Next day I stand
with a Pawtucket detective
who asks me what sense
I can make of this.
I’m not sure.
But last night was Lovecraft’s birthday.
In his "Reanimator" tale
a man named Ezra Weeden
is brought back from the dead,
from the "essential salts" in his grave.
Even in sunlight this tomb is hard to read.
It says "E....ZA... WEEDEN."
A shard or two of bone remains,
black on the stubborn green of lawn,
and everywhere, in tatters,
fragments of shroud appall the sun:
the color is rust, and brick,
persistence of blood
outlasting worm and tree-root,
a color which, once seen,
can never be forgotten.
I do not want to see its like again.

 

Things Seen Cover 1

THINGS SEEN IN GRAVEYARDS.

Revised and gathered together here in one compact, oblong book are all 15 of Brett Rutherford's multi-faceted graveyard poems. Terrifying, sardonic, satirical, romantic, erotic, these neo-Romantic works are set in New England graveyards at Mt. Auburn, Providence, Salem, and rural Rhode Island, with side trips to New York City's Potter's Field (Hart Island), a haunted monument in Kyoto, and the legendary Aceldama in the Holy Land. Accounts of strange exhumations, grave robberies, graveyard trysts interrupted by lonely ghosts, and a delicious transcript of a meeting of cemetery security guards. There is much to savor in this handsome book, illustrated with black-and-white photos and pen-and-ink digital art. 80 pp. ISBN 0-922558-27-2

Things Seen Cover 2

The Companion "Images" Volume is now available. 48 pages of full color digital photographs and digital art by Brett Rutherford. Views of historic cemeteries in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and other locales, mixed with evocative close-ups of foliage, flowers, exotic fungi, and the haunted architecture of Providence and Marblehead. 48 pp., ISBN 0-922558-28-0

CLICK HERE  to order either/both titles from our on-line bookstore.

 

GO BACK TO GRIM REAPER BOOKS HOME PAGE