Two Poems by Stuart Gunter
A Long Time
He sat there a long time.
Took a pull from his whiskey,
dug his fingers
into the flesh of his
forearm, leaving red moons.
He thought of gouging out
a rough tattoo of constellations,
a tableau of stars
and planets, connecting his
body’s dots and stains.
Ursa Major starting at the mole
on his neck. The moon and sun,
opposite nipples. Beautiful
lunar and solar
wounds. His grandchildren would
ask: What is that?
He would answer: That’s life, kids.
Yes, but what is it? What?
Through the dark glass of the van, fireworks
in the night sky, the Wisconsin interstate lit
from above in stops and starts. All night, arrows
of light shatter and fade, embers float over
sleeping land, cows in fields, people looking agape.
We drive into the darkness. Indiana flatland,
Ohio hills, into the mountains of West Virginia.
Exhaustion crowding us, we pull into a roadside
inn. In the morning over dry toast and coffee we talk
about the lights along the freeway playing out:
silent films in scratchy camcorder clarity–
bursting for drivers who can’t stop, who have to
get to the next show, who have somewhere to go,
families alone, wondering where and how they are.
Stuart Gunter lives in Schuyler, Virginia. His poems have been published or are forthcoming in Poet Lore, Atlanta Review, Appalachian Journal, James Dickey Review, International Poetry Review and Plume, among others. His work has been nominated for Best of the Net. Once Again to See the Stars: A Contemporary View of Dante’s Inferno, his collaboration with artist Michelle Gagliano, will be published in 2022. Read his previous poems in Deep South here.