Flickering Rooms – a poem by L. Ward Abel

Flickering Rooms 
 
This bittersweet singularity. 
Low light gives an appearance 
of candles. Short days, long nights. 
The crowd sings alone with 
 
full orchestra.  Last chutes of sun 
are—gone without knowing, like 
tin whistles barely able to hide 
sadness; gone to southern lines  
 
drawn across maps of warm water; 
and gone too is the color green  
except the fields of winter grass. 
 
But here in flickering rooms  
we paint our words with bright 
colors to cast-out minor 
spirits. 
 
Short days, long nights— 
the twirl of ages. 
Where the town turns to field 
is a moving target like breathing 
 
or weather, the clouds come and leave  
like all the mass of everything  
that ever was and combined  
with the restless seed 
 
of beating hearts and living. 
People say that life hits a wall as 
the lights go out, but it flows down 
like water to somewhere else. 
 
The pools—each has a face, 
each in small places, a skin  
that keeps all souls separate 
and blood that flows lonesome 
 
—were once part of 
an ocean so small as to be one 
place, one thought, one word. Just  
look at them now, everywhere. 
 
Short days, long nights give  
the illusion of a pause before 
utterance. But only nothing  
pauses. 

L. Ward Abel’s work has appeared in Rattle, The Reader, The Istanbul Review, The Worcester Review, The Honest Ulsterman, hundreds of others, and is the author of three full collections and ten chapbooks of poetry, including Jonesing For Byzantium (UK Authors Press, 2006),  American Bruise (Parallel Press, 2012), Little Town gods (Folded Word Press, 2016), A Jerusalem of Ponds (erbacce-Press, 2016), The Rainflock Sings Again (Unsolicited Press, 2019), Floodlit (Beakful, 2019), and The Width of Here (Silver Bow, 2021).   

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