Changeling Whistler’s Mother by WC Roberts

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changelingThe yellow mud-brick walls of the ghetto
long for the banks of a river
back in the old country
where the roots of trees held back
the scourge of earth, lifting her veil
and I, in my childhood, fished
for answers with lore for my bait,
dreaming of the cowbird-hobgoblin
whose child I was.

Tunnels into the bank have come thus far
with catacombs beneath streets of cobblestone
and cobweb shrouds for our caravel of bones
bleached white by the suns of other worlds
deemed too costly to maintain with coal
shoveled in lie by lie
from my childhood and the river
back in the old country.

I sleep with one hand on the revolver
(whose knob of silver in a door of brass
opens with “fighting iron” hammer blows
and bursts of smokeless powder)
to protect us from the songs we sing
when we have lost our voices
to stairways of bone-meal and ash
descended from the suns of other worlds
grown cold and lifeless in the barrel of a gun
so pitted with brackish water
that swallows have chosen it as the place
to make their nests, promising to alert me
in the days to come

should bloodshot Erinyes bay at the moon
their dirge of farewell, a round smooth stone
skipped across my childhood and the river
back in the old country.


BIO: WC Roberts lives in a mobile home up on Bixby Hill, on land that was once the county dump. The only window looks out on a ragged scarecrow standing in a field of straw and dressed in WC’s own discarded clothes. WC dreams of the desert, of finally getting his first television set, and of ravens. Above all, he writes, and has had poems published in _ Liquid Imagination Magazine, Strange Horizons, Apex, Space & Time Magazine, Aoife’s Kiss, Scifaikuest, Silver Blade Magazine, Star*Line_, and others.