Big Bridge #10

An Open Letter to America


Micah Ballard



There are two red chambers
& you are on the other side
only ashes. The vines along

the wall tell all, but what
remains? Old habits return
nightlife wanes & ordained

to find the source we scan
the sky for her war-torch.
Children of the Dead, House

of Napoleon, cobra & carnelian
where do the dawns draw out?
Far off & legendary

may the voices recall their lives
the brides remain lost to hide
for there is no age here

just these walls of ivy
with single trumpets
of blood.


En Route

                                      for Jeff Butler

Scores of letters, telegrams & poems
Lie unread on the table. Veiled in the folds
Neglected light, there are no more arches
Only wall & shadow. Head of Nero
Bone-pin & scissor, in uniform departure
They pass in procession & do not stand up
To cold or hunger. We keep moving, making
A white cross over both wrist & shoulder.
This does not work well. There are five marks
The first of which enables life after death
So let the first override the third & second
Override the fourth. There are no
Excavations here, only private vaults
Ceremonies left without safe keeping.



They should like
to be quiet, motionless
no more alive than
before. But now the

royal ghosts are calling
the empty theatres
their thieves, harlots their
garlands. Is it the toil

in spirit or sounds
of open tombs that after
time one becomes numb
& so the hour no longer

comes. Last night
her body was carried
to a small wagon
& a death mask–

cask of her face
& hands were made.
Gone are the guests
bones of those who

have not stood alone.
Buried early morning
& in voluntary exile
may their remains

cease to be released
& her name left behind
as both signature
& sign.


All Saints Day

                                      for Sunnylyn

There are sobs in the distance
twin forces among the pines
                                       steps lead further
                                                                 voices return
                                                                 & under eyes of idols
                                                                 the influence is united.
Dashed off first as rough drafts
these are the only scripts that survive
                                       our cemetery years.

Despite further attention to detail
they do not record our failure of removal
or methods of disposal.
                                       Since then we’ve been divided
                                       & the theme of death is our theifhood.

Pressed into flesh like this                   the sickness of pearl
has been a remedy for centuries
                          indicating years spent in imprisonment

Some are referred to as Suites of Diamonds
                          others Hearts,
                          according to custom

                          finds of this kind have no contradiction
                          & are said to be worn at the temples
                                                                 summoned to dwell within

They stand alone in their eternity
& are not able to give
                                       direct orders.