Quickee Divorce, West Virginia
She got the fur coat a couple of years before they
split. Just after that, gangs of red paint mobs
sprouted up and she didn’t wear it much.
I didn’t know what the fur coat meant.
I hadn’t a concept of adulterous opportunities.
Expressions of love arrived at face value,
or so I thought. The old man might raise his
hand every now and again, but usually I was
quick enough to dart out from under his palm.
The coat, was it sable, mink? Who knows?
I own it now, unable to separate it from the
corrections that have come after it arrived.
If anything it’s our swollen announcement
of failure, dressed in an animal skin eulogy, warm
and inviting. But then lifeless and without mission.
Cheap Dance Lessons, Illinois
The refrain came bound in worn leather
strapped in and hidden away from air
and friendship and the future.
Isolated strangers collected together
in an unwitting passage across the bounty,
never unmasked, hopeful, unaware, and
irretrievable by bridge or conversation.
Men played untuned instruments
echoing in halls meant for more pedestrians
traveling across the vein of separation.
Identical stores sat catty corner to each other,
selling caffeine and tobacco and pastries.
Some slipped into reverie, found small room
at tables with bentwood chairs. The steamed milk
from their coffee corralled with the piped in music
to demarcate the kind of thing that inspired open
hearts. Instead, everyone wore jeans and T-shirts,
paired guilt with envy, an irredeemable melody.
Astronomical Decay, Delaware
We used to lay out in the field and stare up
at the astronomical nonsense.
We held blades of grass in between our drunken fingers.
We were still in school.
The night would never end. The weekend was a trick.
The hours gulped like frantic mouthfuls of air
after being underwater for too long. The stars
dangled above us, buoyant and mysterious.
Henry Cherry works as a journalist, photography teacher, and guest lecturer in Los Angeles. His poetry and photography have appeared Huck, The Louisiana Review, Cordite, Slake, Artillery, and the Poydras Review.