Poems

Robert Lashley: “Elders Rage at the Water Spirits After a Shootout”

This week the website features¬†a selection of poems from WA129, an anthology of poems edited by Washington State Poet Laureate Tod Marshall and published by Sage Hill Press. Marshall observes, having spent his tenure as laureate criss-crossing the state,¬†“Simply, we have many people invested in exploring and sharing how language matters. This anthology is, I hope, an embodiment of and contribution to that enthusiasm, engagement, and prolific word-energy. ” Yesterday we posted a poem from¬†Jenifer Browne Lawrence, and today’s piece¬†comes from Robert Lashley.¬†

 

Elders Rage at the Water Spirits After a Shootout

Reflection, on the lake
is a ripple that eats
then spits out an outline of the woods.
The women in black dip their old tambourines
then blur away from it.
The old men tie their suits into knots
then blur away from it.
The people join and move their hands
to deny his name in the cold.
Rain over e+“The water spirit brought us.”
Rain over e+“The water spirit will not bring us home.”
They wash the memory of blood in ice
and cry power in the darkness.
Rain over e+“The water spirit will not bring us home.”
Hums turn to shouts and chants rewoven
and moans play in scale with the squirrel bounce.
Rain over e+“The water spirit will not bring us home.”
Frogs jump a beat back from their hand claps.
Night bugs swarm but cannot trace steps
in an array of burying grounds
of shadows and spirits in the water.
The juba clap is the overriding veil
of sirens and funeral pyres.
The gun shot at night is the eleventh plague
so they part this iteration of the sea.
Rain over e+“The water spirit brought us.”
Rain over e+“The water spirit will not bring us home.”

Robert Lashley is a 2016 Jack Straw Fellow, Artist Trust Fellow, and nominee for a Stranger Genius Award. His poems have been published in Feminete, The Seattle Review Of Books, NAILED, GRAMMA, and The Cascadia Review. His first full-length book, The Homeboy Songs, was published by Small Doggies press in April 2014. His new book, Up South, was published in March of this year.