Laurence K. Scott
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Phoem 1
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Into the Purple Valley
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Nick and Moondog Save the Shadow People
The Blue Grotto
World's Oldest Living Man
Indian Lover
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The mind returns to one of five
or seven frequencies, like stations preset.


As the hood mirrors the summer sunset


and the power lines arching in step


through glass so clean it disappears,


I think of you, now, in a file drawer


with my other little failures.



Block on block of pre-tract houses slide away;


black on black, merging in the rear-view.


Sprinklers water lawns as fathers grope for weeds


or words and sons roar away raising hell.


Mothers are not figured in this equation.


The engine hums, the oleanders sway,


and the scent is overpowering.





Calmly falling



This midwinter heat wave forces open the windows.


Little girls compete in screaming


under bare elms fingering the last faint magenta


on the crabgrass growing damp with dew.


Distant cheers erupt in the stadium


(there, where you see the silver glow)


when the home team makes the conversion.


Rummaging through the bureau,


you find those wire-rimmed glasses


you save year after year.  For what


The chance your eyes improve?



The license plate colors have changed again.


A man bolts the new ones to his car


in front of a house gutted by fire.


This makes you think of quitting.


But what's one more but,


when you add up all the ands and ifs?


You fear death but long for sleep


like everyone else.  Of course.


One is known, the other isn't.


Either way, you're falling.



Apartment complex




The shutters do not shut. 


The sun's declension makes fuzzy shadows of utility poles


climb the otherwise bare walls.


Standpipes, like Easter Island figures on their angled ground,


catch the last rays below shredded cirrostratus


blowing smoke rings toward a higher altitude.



                    This is my first two-story.                     


The view is unlike my others.


Darkness only falls as far as the carbon-vapor arc lamps


goosenecking over the narrow streets to protect the innocent,


but failing.  Children dart from between parked cars


while their parents beat the dogs that keep me up at night.



This is my last true story,


now that I see the point of deception.


The sky is brown with smoke and the rising sun is red.


I know instinctively how long the driers take,


and step from car to gutter, where the arid wind


blows dust and ash around the anxious sparrows.



The shirts crackle and wave their arms while I hang them.









Double vision



I see everything twice.  More or less.


The bathroom mirror is crazed with age,


and there I am, talking to myself in the morning sun,


overexposed, all detail lost in the glare.



We cautiously walk through our years


as though barefoot and avoiding broken glass


shattered on the kitchen floor,


our ordered lives at least as fragile.



I desperately hope that time


will accept my lame excuses for all my little failures


in consideration of all the good I’ve done.


Surely, God or no god, there must be some accounting.



Deux ex machina 

 I see everything twice; that’s the catch:

my curse, stemming from the order of my birth.

Last light limns the fence slats in gold

while I wait, hoping you reconsider your position.


The rose in the sky dwindles, reflected in the perfect finish of the hood.

Blue neon flickers to life under the steeple of the corner church--

“JESUS SAVES.”  Saves whom? I’d like to know.

You, lost daughter?  Surely not me.



The lemon-twist moon is framed in the double-paned window


above my overlapped reflections.

You can tell what’s inside and what’s outside

by the ghost beside the image, or its absence.



for Leigh Scott

The moon puckers for a kiss as a tiny needle

pulling a white thread up from the horizon aims at its eye.

This is the dry season; stars prick the cirrostratus.


Inside, a frond opens in the silver light.

My daughter's brassy hair follows the pillow's curves,

her hands flung over her head as if in surprise,

her face calm as the sky tonight.

She wakes a moment and smiles at me, then drifts away

like a bather in the Great Salt Lake.


Down on the patio, the coals still glow in the barbecue

where I warm my hands and stare into infinity.

She is all that holds me to this patch of earth.






The nature of things



You watch through binoculars as your shadow ascends

the opposite canyon wall until it tops the vermilion rim

and rises, presumably, into space.

This is not a dream, not a prediction, not about God.

This is about scale and perspective

and the nature of things we don’t understand.  May never.


Only a wink of geologic time

separates us from the stone age, and already

we (speaking editorially) know the critical mass of the universe.

But even Einstein was capable of murder;

his nature as fixed as the orbit of the asteroid

that may one day end life on earth.








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