Bill Carty


As a doornail. As a duck. As a battery. A beat. The fall. Heat. A line. A heavy load. The weight. As wood. As air. As an eye. As the end. As it will be and has been. As dust. As it happens. Ascending. Moving on. Away. Into air. Into the sunset. A long sleep. A lonesome road. A kingdom come. Over Jordan. Back to nature. Snuffed out. Curtains. Croaked. Cashed. Kaput. Paid the debt. Pushing daisies. The piper. The plank. The price. The toll. The coil. The farm. The halo. The ghost. Now you see it. Ta-dah. The big one. Number's up. Long gone. Last legs. Done in. A box. The bucket. Earth bath. Across the river. Over water. In slumber. At peace. The latter end. Unto the Lord. A reckoning. To the maker. To meet Him. To go with Him. The just reward. The last account. The way of all earth. The inevitable hour. Last call. Last breath. Final rest. My regards. Bless you. What a shame. The luck. Who would have. My condolences. Heartfelt. Deepest. Warmest. Gravest. Sincere. Seriously. Peace be with you. I just heard. Anything I can do. Part of the plan. His plan. His will. The way. The strangest thing. It shouldn't. If only. You couldn't. I never. Imagine. The brightest light.

after Nick Flynn



A lawyer leans toward you,
"Kiddo, the quid pro quo is letting go.
Whatever goodwill you've banked
can't keep the firm's interest."
The evidence is evident only
as you imagine it: paint
on the bumper, a second driver
speeding from the scene.

This was the winter severed feet
drifted to shore and everyone
thought it was funny. Look
at yourself, where's the outrage?
A boy's shoe ditched on the highway—
what's that story? Once, someone
left a red rag in the road
just to keep your hopes down.

Some people just go missing.
Over the harbor, the sky clenches
dark and grim. Once, you tried
to disappear for good: knapsack packed,
you jetted into the woods.
That night thunder struck the coast
like gunshots, like some punks blasting
bottles from a jilted Datsun.

When along the ridge a tree exploded,
you charged through brambles.
Two miles later, skin torn and defeated,
you saw your house ahead
and thought of light and sleep.
You saw the grim hearth and didn't enter.
As the sky went slack, you collapsed
in the crook of an oak,
while stars blinked and fell
into the meadow like a thousand coins.





Both poems are part of a chapbook-in-progress, Quarry. The "Star Talers" borrows from two stories: one [old], one [new]. "Wake" is a variation on a form I first saw in a chapter of Nick Flynn's memoir, Another Bullshit Night in Suck City.