Three Poems by C.S. Fuqua

sc june 18

Artesian

As a child, I spat watermelon seeds,
seated on a picnic table under a mimosa
twenty feet from the artesian well
that fed the pond behind the house.
When he’d see a turtle head
break the pond’s surface,
he’d order, Get my rifle, boy,
and yell, Before I whup your ass!

After his parents died,
he capped the well,
discarded the table,
and cut down the tree.
The pond’s stagnant now,
and frogs that once croaked
a deafening chorus through dark nights
have succumbed to pesticides.

Cancer took his wife a year ago
with the smoke he still enjoys
in a house whose skin encases
a skeleton of rooms
where he spent his youth,
rooms in which his parents died.
If he ever wonders what happened
to the boy who spat watermelon seeds,
he keeps it to himself,
secure in the silence
the frogs left behind.

Assisted

Propped in the wheelchair,
glazed gaze toward
the wall across the hallway,
he realizes in increments
that his hand is in mine.
His head turns slowly,
some vague recollection
stirring in his eyes.
You seen Mama? he asks.
Do you know me?
Ray.
Who’s Ray?
Recognition flickers.
His face twists, tears form,
then the moment’s gone.
You seen Mama?
He sighs.
I know you,
and he places my name upon his lips.
He nods, says, I’m proud,
and I think I’ll hear
what I’ve craved a lifetime.
I’m real proud of my life.
I’m sure you are, I say.
He nods.
I love everybody.
Nods again.
Everybody loves me.
You seen Mama?
She’s waiting, I tell him.
You should find her.
Six days later,
he does.

World Without

The difficulty
is to visualize the world—
at least your part of it—
without you.

Each visit presented new tortures:
the turtle in the bucket
I tipped over to allow escape,
the day you used your rifle
for the hell of it
to obliterate tiny heads
breaking the pond’s surface,
the horse you whipped bloody
because it didn’t want
your sorry ass on its back,
the dog whimpering under
the patio table,
terrified it’d done something
worth a beating.

On second thought, visualizing
your part of the world without you
isn’t so difficult after all.

C.S. Fuqua’s books include White Trash & Southern ~ Collected Poems, The Swing ~ Poems of Fatherhood, Walking after Midnight ~ Collected Stories, the SF novel Big Daddy’s Fast-Past Gadget, Hush, Puppy! A Southern Fried Tale (children’s), and Native American Flute Craft, among others. His work has appeared in publications such as Year’s Best Horror Stories XIX, XX and XXI, Pudding, Pearl, Chiron Review, Christian Science Monitor, Slipstream, The Old Farmer’s Almanac, The Writer, and Honolulu Magazine.