We trudged through prickled undergrowth
a beaten trailhead circled back to secret
clearings, trying not to lose our footing
through trackless zigzags of a ragged moon.
A bonfire starts with stray, loose scraps of paper,
worn boxes marked Fragile and Family
Albums. The tinder blazed tall as all our fathers
doused with cheap spirits, handles that we’d swindled.
We blabbered bull about small beer in the stupor
of our big talk, slurred voices shrill and thin as girls’
who’d never be old flames, until the embers died.
We fell, quick, into our dreams of other’s stubblefaces.
I glance through latticework of the ash and elder
trees, sunlight cutting through autumn’s trash;
the sun, a gash that beats into my head. My wing-
man slumps upon my gut. A soiled clump
of thudding snowfall dumps a bright, white load
from some swaying limb above me, and the stolen
hours—unforgiving—keep gnawing at my liver.
I stump up, past the sawed-off nubs and felled
lumber, over deadfall that each year delivers.