Church Bells

by Tom Baker 8 months ago in surreal poetry


Church Bells

It is a bright summer day when a little boy

Carries a mason jar of water

to the side of an Indiana house,


Out in the summer sun so long ago. (Squatting naked in the bright white glow of yesterday's noon times.)

"Granpa Atop a Rickety Ladder,"

(Like a Norman Rockwell scene of American Peach Pie Eisenhower-era goodness.) leaning at crazy angles it is.

Over the side of the house a comfortable swell of belly / and blue jeans paint-flecked--Bespattered, with precious white drops

while little man goggles to pass the liquid up. And the rose bushes curl across the patio / Like pythons in the bright,

The grandpa wears a billed cap and sunglasses, although LARGE, ROUGH DIRTY HANDS

Whisk white the old brush across the cracked and porous surface of the dawn.

"You'll talk my ear off," he say, but he can't remember a single, solitary sentence / That quivered forth from eager childhood lips (it is a play and a satire on communication).

And ten years from now when I am dead, I'll go to wander the beak 1982 neighborhoods so vast and empty / As the sunrise beckons to graying porch

And...hear the bells.

( little man stands in the shadow of the church steeple.)

Grandpa in breast pocket suit as dead fingers shake tiny boy palm with four hideous sausage stumps. Ringing bells reverberate,

The factory town neighborhood wherein we gave birth

To gritty families under the shadow of

Antennas and rickety want.

(Is that the wedding bells of the Risen Christ?)

Over the street I go / and deserted, no cars (the last time this happened was on 9-11) / and yards overgrown with crabgrass and abandoned tricycle in derelict yard

rusts in the wind and dew.

Nerf balls beckon, sad plastic junk toys left like lonely orphans

Where are the little fists to manipulate / the tiny fingers to press down?

Into the earth?

The good black soil to penetrate the spaces and crevices between naked toes?

Plastic junk garbage toys sad bottle left dead and empty / as an autopsied heart in the gravel pathway.

(But, someone on Sunday is praying.)

Bells, bells, bells, church, bells, bells, bells...

"Can you hear them still? Say, Granpa and a rusted enormous whale of a car, with a radio antenna, and those little knobs in the dash board face?--

Parked in the gravel slut in the front yard, by the side of the idle street sloping down / and clouds move over the sun.

A hill runs, intersecting, as if the humpback of a vast, subterranean serpent, buried and petrified, rests curled beneath the roadway.

Down to the three Dante Divine Comedy Mouths of the triple underpass / Above which, locomotive roars overhead and cuts, through the rumbling air, when life fades down to slumber behind peeking windows in the black.

Squat like decaying dollhouses of want under the Midwestern sky.

And then you hang a left,

Coming across, little by little whistling past the boneyard, / the IOOF--

craggy hills and dips, and old tottering monuments, generations of dust and bone buried beneath the soil of a faded day gone

long ago choked in the dust, with the worms that rule the body, devour the brain.


surreal poetry
Tom Baker
Tom Baker
Read next: Poem: New Life
Tom Baker

Author of Haunted Indianapolis , Indiana Ghost Folklore, , Midwest Maniacs, Midwest UFOs and Beyond, Scary Urban Legends, 50 Famous Fables and Folk Tales, Notorious Crimes of the Upper Midwest :

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