Mercedes Lawry

Powerless

As the wind becomes demonic with a low
hiss and reckless throttle of trees,
the porch chairs skitter together, as if ghosts
wanted to pull forward for a tête-á-tête.
The power’s out. Damn. I haven’t finished
packing. I need a cup of tea. It’s December.

Already the roof is a pocked wasteland
of missing shingles. Somehow the last three
ravaged apples still cling to the bony branches.
An eerie patch of blue to the north,
like an eye slowly scanning the frenzy.
It’s the gusts we must beware of—the sudden
shudder of air whip-sailing through,
that lifts and tears and breaks.

And yet I like to be reminded we’re at the mercy
of the earth, that everything bloated and strutting
can be swept away in a breath. I leave the cold
dark house, unsure of what will blink or blare
when I come home. I’ll shrug off this bitter night
into a story, amusing and wry, well aware
these few chilled hours have little to do
with survival—the countless huddled under tarps,
in tents, in rundown vans, whose every night
is clutched in an icy grip.

The Bard At Loose Ends

I am reckless and unforgiven,
done with liars.
Here’s my castle, a green tent,
festooned with mold, fading
into the landscape, a natural
creature under the freeway
hidden in the bracken.
I was a student of Shakespeare and now
I transform myself into such a character,
tragic or comic for both shadows
find me, as does the moon with its
sorrowful eyes. Never the fool,
though you might expect it.
That’s a luxury I do not have.
My baseball bat, a sword,
these beads of rain, my crown.
If death comes blazing across a field
or stealthily, from behind a curtain,
or in the still purple of a goblet of wine,
I’ll go out to great effect, audience or not,
a mere player among the raggedy cast.

Author Portrait

Mercedes Lawry has published poetry in such journals as Poetry, Nimrod, and Prairie Schooner. She’s published three chapbooks, the latest, In The Early Garden With Reason was selected by Molly Peacock for the 2018 WaterSedge Chapbook Contest. Her full manuscript Small Measures is forthcoming from Twelve Winters Press. She’s also published short fiction and stories and poems for children.