"Pleasures of the Street," "A New Routine," and "The Winter Alliance"

Pleasures of the Street

Standing in the doorway
trying to make out
who’s crying in the flames
Sister says it’s redhead Judas
she can place it in the Holy Word
Sheriff leans from the passenger side
says it’s gamblers playing side bets
while the faro banker steals
Papa says it's one more watchman
gutted by a thief
Preacher headed for the hanging
says it’s a soul sick enemy among us
The wife knows it’s ghosts of brothers
lost to road gang heat
Standing in the doorway
trying to make out
who’s crying in the flames
I roll my cigarette tight
turn aside so they don’t see
how much it pleases my heart to hear



A New Routine

I’ve been talking all day to strangers—
about health and money,
the nature of the naïve,
how derision and whiskey will
mold a man into a spy.
I read the fashion page.
They take the ledgers and
a long view of forgery, larceny
and Black Label in a London suite.
Danger is discipline,
like the adulterer’s coded note,
balanced lies between lawyer and bribe.
If I take the long way bridge,
return a lighter briefcase
to the office after hours,
it’s only preparation
for a passport weekend.
Lingering over a bistro lunch,
circling three items in a Cartier catalog,
I take a town car to the heliport,
to debriefings, cash deposits
and a Fiji destination.
The balance, I tell the bartender,
is water to whisky. Discipline is
taking the long view of a lie.



The Winter Alliance

Between the line of industry and residence,
bus lights turn the dark lane.
Luminous behind guard dog fences,
the wall graffiti reads, “Who dies tonight?”
Leaning on my car this sunset,
I wait as a cloud bank reveals
remnants of a red moon.
Ringing from the patio,
a Danelectro stings rhythm chords
over the arid, glassine evening.
You appear across the grass,
cropped hair gleaming copper
under the courtyard lamps.
Sugar cane soda half-empty in your hand,
you call out, “Are we for drinks or for dinner?”
“We’re a force in the world,” is my reply.

Spending loose change to save the dollar bills,
I take a Red Bull, you sip the diet beer.
Sirius reminds, “The road goes on forever…”
Our drive takes shape in parables of
careless debt, schemes for summer wages,
narrow arguments for theft.

Blocks roll stoplight to stop sign
as you post poisoned text and tweet,
copy my comments for replies.
Impulse and memory fail
with each hard kiss, unzipped selfie.
What I owe, what I own
lumbers like a freight car.
Love is a lazing afterthought.
It preys in leering embrace.
I wheel the roundabout past
the fountains to the club.
You grab a Chloe bag,
strike into the crowd.
I hesitate at the valet, consider
the parking tower and the road.
Hard lights stream sights of
feral scurry, plaza stroll.
A wind-kicked can rolls and rattles.
Spring is nearly over.



R.T. Castleberry

R.T. Castleberry is a widely published poet and critic. His work has appeared in Roanoke Review, Trajectory, Blue Collar Review, White Wall Review, The Alembic and Visitant. Internationally, Castleberry’s work has been published in Canada, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, New Zealand and Antarctica. His work has been featured in the anthologies, Travois-An Anthology of Texas Poetry, The Weight of Addition, Anthem: A Tribute to Leonard Cohen and You Can Hear the Ocean: An Anthology of Classic and Current Poetry. His chapbook, Arriving At The Riverside, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2010. An e-book, Dialogue and Appetite, was published by Right Hand Pointing in May, 2011. He recommends the Houston Food Bank.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Monday, July 2, 2018 - 11:27