Four Poems by L. Ward Abel

Molly Preston4
Artwork by Molly Preston



His outpost is a place of edges.
He hears a woman cry.
Nearby there’s a mile-long trestle;
the bridge won’t swing aside
for those like her without means
to cross.

Something dark is happening here.
He clarifies the line between what is and was
and the ability to accept there’s no return
without paint. His middling canvas
plays there a few blocks down and over
in that empty room.

He channels.
He may only mimic her tragic beauty
but such is the fruit of receiving.
And such is his gift of tongues
in a land without




Our still-moving lawn joins a larger drifting,
white-cloud mountaintops a hundred miles
away like a blurred migration, a lost exodus

processing. Frenzied, our empire is a llano peopled
with the anxious, the unready. It’s already started.
A smell of fire and flesh spreads out.

The death of older ways, it blows wide, strong and
everywhere. Starlings flutter; they rise from clearings,
their unison almost weather. But we’re earthbound

solo or twos and threes on the edge of breaking. We
stand on separate rolling plates, while budgies rest
like buddhas, plural and one in the garden.

We need a Constantine, a welder of great schisms
whenever they happen. We cry, “Rid us this divide.
Show us the birds’ way. Renew in us that common wing.”




Open Space / Open Country

Our tight space
our small room shades
those celery-colored
walls, dotted flashing
russet white and black.
A forced green but
not green.

You’d have to call it
pale what with
the fading day angled
less fleshy than death-hued,
informed by sketches
no longer
hanging here.

So what becomes of us
when we who are
made from big places
crave a return to wideness
a scattering that
when asunder may be freer
than when peopled

in the towns? Even
as art freezes a blur, an old
Polaroid shot tries
another best-effort-brushed
collective linseed oil
streak across to touch but not
touching what is now

an otherwise sky-colored wheel.
But all shades have bled-out
into our water table.
So it’s no good.
The lonely number tonight
looks for his
open country.



After the Pulpwood Trucks Have Left

Red cut land oozes
around the cicatrice
it wears.
break away
from tracks from moss
a greening a shadow.
Drones gather sentient wings,
a camp meeting of shimmering.
Don’t ask
about all the eyes after dark.
You can see them
now their table turned,
gilded blinking nights.



L. Ward Abel, poet, composer and performer of music, teacher, retired lawyer, lives in rural Georgia, has been published hundreds of times in print and online, and is the author of Peach Box and Verge (Little Poem Press, 2003), Jonesing For Byzantium (UK Authors Press, 2006), The Heat of Blooming (Pudding House Press, 2008), Torn Sky Bleeding Blue (erbacce-Press, 2010), American Bruise (Parallel Press, 2012), Cousins Over Colder Fields (Finishing Line Press, 2013), Roseorange (Flutter Press, 2013), Little Town gods (Folded Word Press, 2016), A Jerusalem of Ponds (erbacce-Press, 2016), and Digby Roundabout (Kelsay Press, 2017).