Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts
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SHJ Issue 18
Spring 2018

[Two Poems]

by Christien Gholson

Dead of Night

After Tu Fu
Window glass trembles against wood, a hum
inside the skull wakes me from a dream: a child
hiding in the well of a car as it rolls backwards
down a mountain road. No driver, no brakes.

I step outside, barefoot, night-sweat freezing
against the skin, look up into the engine noise,
believe for a second the stars have finally broken
free of all law, spinning around each other.

Planes, so many planes, all heading west—
Utah, Nevada? Red lights, green lights, white;
lights to keep each other in line, keep each other
close. Training maneuvers.

Afterwards, silence rises from the earth, nearby
stones; a silence deeper than before the planes,
before the dream. Eisenhower, Pershing, Grant
and Washington settle back into red dust.

What is this thing called human progress? Why
do we believe in it? Left-over snow gleams
against rock on Picacho’s north side. A dog
barks in the canyon below.




No rain this last fall. No
snow this winter. The call
of a raven is a splinter
pulled from an old board.


I used to love how loneliness
rose from twilit ditch-snow,
how the blue (ombre-blue, ghost’s-
embrace-blue) absorbed
the sky, the serpent beneath.
Something was missing, but
something was given.


I saw a line of cars—hundreds
of miles, back to back—
heading east, a traveling carnival,
a desperate party, dazzling funeral:
water refugees crossing
the Missouri, the Mississippi.
No one would let them stop
and they drove and drove
through the night, into the sea...


No rain this last fall. No
snow this winter. Charcoal burns.
Children on bikes. Everyone’s out
enjoying the sun, the gorgeous sun,
the endless sun, the miracle sun...
A horned lizard squeezes out
another live birth.


SHJ Issue 18
Spring 2018

Christien Gholson

is the author of two books of poetry, On the Side of the Crow (Hanging Loose Press, 2006; re-published in the UK by Parthian Books, 2011) and All the Beautiful Dead (Winner of the Bitter Oleander Press Award, 2015; Finalist for the NM Book Award); and a novel, A Fish Trapped Inside the Wind (Parthian Books, 2011). His long eco-poem, Tidal Flats, recently appeared as Issue 63 of Mudlark. Gholson lives in New Mexico.

Poet’s blog: noise & silence

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury