This Is Where I Slowdown On The Way Home by Billy Howell-Sinnard

This Is Where I Slowdown On The Way Home

I’ve come this way so many times,
kept an eye on the swan couple
residing in a private niche.

She spends her time on the nest.
A madonna in repose. Her
elegant neck so neatly folded

upon her body that I wonder,
for a second, if she still lives.
He floats carefree nearby,

or sometimes I see him
across the road,
the roving lover

exploring other waters,
but always back to her.
Not far from their parental

trusts, their necks
entwine in one purpose,
their white bodies

blend into a cloud
on the water
drifting into the reeds

into a privacy
from which I feel a need
to look away.

by Billy Howell-Sinnard

Editor’s Note: The title of this poem prepares us for the narrator’s description of a moment that happens often, but not often enough to remedy the awkward, emotional perspective of the final three lines.

Crazy White Man Parked At The End Of A Dirt Road by Billy Howell-Sinnard

Crazy White Man Parked At The End Of A Dirt Road

His wife’s drunk,
passed out in the car.
Her sister kicks around on the ground,
panties dangling
from her shoeless foot.

She yells in English and Arapahoe
for her brother-in-law
to come back.
He pulls up his pants,
stumbles on a rock
and heads for the mountains,
focuses on a ridge of red sandstone
behind a spine of boulders.

A lone pine
at the pinnacle
shoulders a pale
skin of sky
like the last warrior
in the first rays of light.

The beauty of Wyoming:
few people, few trees;
it’s the terror, too.
Tufts of sagebrush
cling to parched ground.
Dust flowers
blossom under his boots
then vanish.

He forgot his beer.
Wyoming doesn’t care about
beer or water,
or cars abandoned
or carcasses rotting
in the middle of nowhere.

He doesn’t care about Wyoming
or his wife sleeping-it-off
or his sister-in-law
yelling in the distance.

He heads for a mountain
he may never reach.
A fallen eagle feather
quivers in a sagebrush,
a fluttering flag of something lost.

by Billy Howell-Sinnard, first published in The Centrifugal Eye’s 5th Anniversary Anthology.

Editor’s Note: This poem’s narrative demands several readings before the ending stanza fully settles in the mind. Desolation has many layers.

Selfies by Billy Howell-Sinnard

Selfies

My daughter gave me a selfie stick,
said that mom told her I was the one

always taking pictures of myself.
I protested at first, then let it go,

thought of all the photos on Facebook
that were of me as a baby up until now

and the hundreds of transformations
in between. Was I vain? I didn’t

think so. I know my mother
would be critical of the way I looked.

She was beautiful and her children
had to be beautiful, except my nose

was too big and my feet were better
kept covered. There was a time

when I thought my looks were all
I had, but I didn’t trust that either.

I look at those photos and wonder,
who is that baby, boy, teenager, man?

What was I thinking in my swallowtail
tux, a buzz on, the sun setting behind me,

high school done and never begun?
Why that sad look on my face?

I’m holding a toy gun, about to cry.
I’m always about to cry even when

I’m smiling. I think we all are.

by Billy Howell-Sinnard

Editor’s Note: This poem subtly emphasizes one of the problems of social media—what is true? Are we all crying behind our profile pics?