2 Poems by Rod Drought

The Cavern

Hundreds of skulls
Colored sandstone pink
Ring its great yawning mouth
They grin at your arrival
You cannot determine
If they were carved or absorbed
The one you touch crumbles
Like a parched castle
When the tide recedes

She asks for your ticket
One appears in your hand
She tells you are late
You were due long ago

You follow the wandering line
To enveloping dark
Water drips,
Detached voices
Of ones that went before
Playfully echo their inside joke
Taunting the graduating class

The time passage narrows
The chambers disorient
You relent to the catacomb
Choose to cling to the ceiling
Rather than plant to the floor
The sediment washes over
Sealed and affixed for eternity
Tour guides and believers
Marvel the slow drip of you


Porcelain face with long, curly locks
I sported a lavender dress and handbag
I was an ornament on a shelf in her room
Encased in glass propped on a pedestal
Tied to a stand, a bloodless Jesus
They told her I was too pretty for play

She wanted me
Mother said no
Like her I was to be admired
Never touched
For years I watched from above, she
Rough with the more fortunate ones
Undone hair became tangled and wiry
Their shoes and clothes mismatched or lost
Some were naked and crayon marked
All weathered from love

I a collectable, collected dust
My finery faded in the relentless
Rising and falling of the sun
The air in my glass prison stifling and stale

She grew, her face changed, wonder lost
One day she did not come back
The favored toys and I waited in
The silent room until the morning
Her withered mother sat on
The empty bed and wept
She looked up and noticed me
For the first time

Taking me from the shelf
Dust whirling in the air
She removed me from my cage,
Untied and hugged me
She gasped when she felt my tremble

Shortly after we were tagged, displayed,
Discounted on card tables in the garage
Unsalable, we were stuffed in a garbage bag,
Hauled to this hellish place of trilling,
Frantic birds, stench, and machinery

Rain pelts the bag, we are dry in
The dark but my painted blue eyes can see
The terrified faces of the wasted ones
Pressed against my fragile tomb
I hear a demon grinding, squealing,
Creaking ever closer
Soon I will be free

Rod Drought, an ex-New Yorker, now calls Arizona his home. He has four books of poetry found on his website, droughtsthirst.com.  He has been published in many literary journals, and is co-administrator to Port of Call Poetry, an online page that supports poets worldwide.