Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal

Waiting for the Cane

Graham Burchell

It started with wild things revealing,
portents, leaking from their quiet caches of wood and leaf;
a raccoon, fat from cat food on the front porch,
birds that perched on bare branches to stare me down,
dead eyes, or the obsidian eyes of a squirrel
pasted to the oak, following my fingers,
transmitting its arboreal thoughts,
sniffing trace breeze and tang of something beyond my ken.

Countless leaves, wafers of translucence,
seemed wired to whip stems,
motionless until Friday in the heat
when the first messenger cloud cruised
and trees shivered, sounding their papery panic.
She’s coming.
A soot devil of grackles took to the air,
tasted the hem of her skirt and squabbled westward.

Sky remained blue, but every now and when,
she skated a paper sack on spilled acorns
rolling like steel bearings over hot concrete,
or she slammed a patio grill lid shut,
dragging a leaning rake to the floor –
small marks of domination, later teased
with rain drips pulled from a watery rink.

Cars squeezed into arteries,
bunched in tortuous lines with tortured pets;
sounds of hard-heated drying engines,
overlaid with sirens of disarray,
squeal of screws biting into wooden frames
alongside glass sheet collaged with tribal duct tape snakes.

Sky was lost beyond the ruffles of her layered underskirts.
An explosion shocked the air, sucked our power
and left us to promised dark.
Oh now she was really coming.
Her quickening pirouettes laced us with cords of tossed rain.
From my cache behind thin slats of plantation shutters
I saw her twist trees hard, howl, strip fantails of pine,
dead fingers of oak, break our toys,
leave us stunned from her dance when the new day came.


Graham Burchell was born in Canterbury, England. He is the winner of the 2005 Chapter One Promotions Open Poetry Competition, and the runner up in the 2005 'Into Africa' International Poetry Competition. His work has appeared in many literary magazines. He is editor of the poetry journal, Words-Myth. He writes full-time from his home in Houston, Texas.

© Graham Burchell

Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal ISSN 1554-8449, Copyright © 2004-2012