by R.T. Castleberry  PLEASURES OF THE STREETStanding in the doorway
trying to make out
who’s crying in the flames
Sister says it’s redhead Judas
she can place it in the Holy Word
Sheriff leans from the passenger side
says it’s gamblers playing side bets
while the faro banker steals
Papa says it’s one more watchman
gutted by a thief
Preacher headed for the hanging
says it’s a soul sick enemy among us
The wife knows it’s ghosts of brothers
lost to road gang heat
Standing in the doorway
trying to make out
who’s crying in the flames
I roll my cigarette tight
turn aside so they don’t see
how much it pleases my heart to hear   THE WINTER ALLIANCEBetween the line of industry and residence,
bus lights turn the dark lane,
a wind-kicked can rolls and rattles.
Luminous behind guard dog fences,
the wall graffiti reads, “Who dies tonight?”
Leaning on my car this sunset,
I wait as a cloud bank reveals
remnants of a red moon.
Ringing from the patio,
a Danelectro stings rhythm chords
over the arid, glassine evening.
You appear across the grass,
cropped hair gleaming copper
under the courtyard lamps.
Sugar cane soda half-empty in your hand,
you call out, “Are we for drinks or for dinner?”
“We’re a force in the world,” is my reply.
Spending loose change to save the dollar bills,
I take a Red Bull, you sip the diet beer.
Sirius reminds, “The road goes on forever…”
Our drive takes shape in rough fables of
careless debt, schemes for summer wages,
the narrow argument for theft.
Impulse and memory fail
with each hard kiss, unzipped selfie.
The blocks roll stoplight to stop sign
as you post poisoned text and tweet,
copy my comments for replies.
What I owe, what I own
lumbers like a freight car.
Love is a lazing afterthought.
It preys in leering embrace.
I wheel the roundabout past
the fountains to the club.
You grab a Chloe bag,
strike into the crowd.
I hesitate at the valet, consider
the parking tower and the road.
Hard lights stream sights of
heiress, bodyguard, camera crew.
Spring is nearly over.   ANOTHER STYLE OF BLUEHenna hair, a burning Lucky Strike,
rescue dog in her bag,
she walks bright into the bar,
gestures with smile and sunglasses,
and is gone to a streetside table.
Tumbling her purse in searching,
she’s taken a photo of defeated guidons,
Photoshopped blue.
It gestures toward Li Po for a title,
the narrative of its evolution.
She’ll issue it with broadsides,
manifestos for a caring revolution.
Mani-pedi matching,
she slips out of her shoes,
hands conjuring illusions over Cabernet.
People like me, she smiles.
They follow at a discreet distance all day.
She takes her cell phone, films
cop cars as they cruise the lot.
Loosed from her lap,
the dog pulls at his leash.
Leaning over, she growls to him:
Resist.   THE LAWMAN VENTURES SOUTHI keep two calendars—
one for penance prayers,
the other for crimes I hope to commit.
Above my desk is
the print of an ocean apocalypse:
Marines and pirates maim along the shore,
the Monitor and Merrimac churn on a reef,
Bounty restored to Bligh, slipping East
toward a blood moon, an ice volcano.
I’m a creature of reflex and grief,
found money, the film noir beating.
Like a West Coast hangman
my hat has a Montana crease,
a Peter Lorre pin.
The suit is Brioni, burglar blue.
Dusty Lucchese’s kicked to the couch,
I focus on a South Padre split.
Neon streams the window seat,
a smartphone chimes in its cradle.
Every call is one waiting for a death.
Three black cats crossed my grinning path today.
I lost belief in bad luck when
the sheriff weighed his worth
over gin and twenties.
Five lies are told to cue
the lawman to his movie:
he’ll free the crook, call the girl,
take a midnight drive to Mexico.
He’ll end in an empty room
in an empty house on a beach in Baja;
no suitcase, no passport,
gunmen marching up the stairs
I keep two calendars—
one is for penance paid.   THE NIGHT CANVASThe park empties–
bonfires doused, bottles drained,
reflex of last laughter
seeping across a meadow.
Couples scuff a lane through piled leaves,
retrievers bounding at their backs.
Runner’s range the corners and the cold.
A taste of icy air raw in my throat,
wind’s edge sweeps the stripling trees.
Buildings blur to outline,
black against white sunset.
Wet wintry days approach.
The Sunday chair and channels beckon.             About the Author:R.T. CastleberryR.T. Castleberry is a widely published poet and critic. His work has appeared in Roanoke Review, Santa Fe Literary Review, Comstock Review, Green Mountains Review, The Alembic, Silk Road and Argestes. Internationally, Castleberry’s work has been published in Canada, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, New Zealand and Antarctica. Mr. Castleberry’s work has been featured in the anthologies, Travois-An Anthology of Texas Poetry, TimeSlice, The Weight of Addition, Anthem: A Tribute to Leonard Cohen and Blue Milk’s anthology, Dawn. His chapbook, Arriving At The Riverside, was published by Finishing Line Press in January, 2010. An e-book, Dialogue and Appetite, was published by Right Hand Pointing in May, 2011.