POEMS BY RUSSELL DUPONT

ALONE IN THE HOUSE ON A WINTER AFTERNOON

This house is so still I can feel it breathe.
Morning has crept away, leaving nothing
but its odors; and the pale extension
of afternoon will soon succumb to evening.

Outside, the street grays, a dog barks
and a trembling motor coughs past.
Here, there is a settling, dry sounds,
the house cracking its knuckles,

the crumpling of brittle paper.
I have gone this far in the day –
as though there could be a turning back –
and there is little to lure me on.

Down the hours, night waves its blunt edge
and beyond, tomorrow lurks in the bushes
like a thorn, ready to draw blood.

MEA MÁXIMA CULPA

My mother was a daily communicant
and while I was too young to protest
— still too young to not believe —
she led me, each morning,
through the streets of The Project
to dimly-lit and narrow-aisled
St. Augustine’s where shawl-draped
women with uneasy eyes
raised to heaven
clutched their beads
and mouthed silent pleas;
and a sparse bent man bowed,
hunched over in his pew,
hands folded, head buried
in devotion, mumbled
supplications, begged
for mercy and grace
while morning’s light flickered
through stain glass windows.

Later, when I was old enough
to sin and know sin, I heard
hypocrites pervert
God’s metaphors
with trumped-up lies
and all around us
whited sepulchers
preached not love
but hate, while
most of us,
like those penitents
from long ago,
beat our breast,
muttering
mea culpa,
mea culpa,
mea maxima culpa.

RINGALEVEO

“All life is a struggle in the dark.” Lucretius
Imagine it
beginning in the warm,
dark-descending summer night.

Imagine apartments
coughing children
into the congested street;
children halving into teams,
the hunted dissolving
into the evening.

The search begins
under night’s windowed eyes;
guttural voices,
too loud whispers,
undermine the stillness.
We searched the streets,
the loosely-linked yards,
stalked the still warm shadows
for friends evading friends;
then clenched our captures
and hauled them back
into the streetlamp’s
prison of light.

Life has become
a dusty attic,
and it is strange
how I am becoming
all past —
how these thoughts
reach out and clutch
at my mind
on this summer evening
so near dark, so near
that moment when night
sucks up the last remaining light.

Saxton Street

A child’s game
[ of sinister proportions ]
we did not dare to dream
the hot intrusion
of heat to wood,
paper or the old rags
so casually disposed of.

Ah! but once
the glorious spark
took hold and spread
like gossip
to the backyard fence
that contained the block
of apartments
we, unintentional arsonists,
failed keepers of the flame,
unable to take the heat,
extinguish our fear,
race to cooler shadows
while the shrill screams
of sirens wail our names.

THE COEFFICIENT OF HAZE

The fog rolled in this morning –
the coefficient of haze, smoke shade —
scientific definitions to label the poetry
of something that cannot be defined.

The leaves have fallen in the back yard
and the bare trees are only dimly visible
and I cannot see the way to reach
for the words that describe the indescribable.

A curtain has fallen; silence
obscures my thoughts.
As the trees dissolve into the light,
I resolve to search for an answer.

Russell Dupont is the author of two novels: KING & TRAIN and WAITING FOR THE TURK. He is also the author of four chapbooks: UP IN WISCONSIN: TRAVELS WITH KINSLEY; THERE IS NO DAM NOW AT RICHFORD; and two books of poetry: WINTER, 1948 and ESTABLISHING HOME PLATE. His poetry has been published in various literary magazines, including The Albatross, The Anthology of South Shore Poets, Re-Side, Oddball, JerryJazzMusician; and his story, “The Corner,” appears in the anthology STREETS OF ECHOES. His journalism has appeared in The Dorchester Community News, The Melrose Free Press and The Patriot Ledger. His novel, Waiting for the Turk was nominated for a Goodreads Choice Books 2019 Award. He is also a photographer, painter and printmaker whose works have been widely exhibited and are in public and private collections, including The Boston Public Library; Brigham and Women’s Hospital; and The Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

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