THE COAL CELLAR / DON BRANDIS

The house muttered secrets in seven languages
as it slept, creaking and sighing deep in the night
shifting on its bed of brick pillars
four feet above the black earth,
a memory of the river’s visits
now a mile away and tamed by dams

Our only formal cellar was a narrow cell for a furnace and a coal bin
black lumps rumbled in streams from a dump truck
weekly, and at first were shoveled into the furnace
by a tall man in overalls, soon replaced
by a fat green slug of a feeder whose electric hum
the furnace’s breathy song swallowed as coal swallows light
absorbing, becoming even the witnessing eye

combustible and nearly weightless like styrofoam
it crumbled easily in a hand as though it had no interior
only repeated exteriors of soft fine black sand
we found on every neglected upstairs surface

we burned the earth’s dark jewelry as unacknowledged offerings
      to power,
like Inca children thrown into a volcano

 

 

 

 

Don Brandis is a retired healthcare worker living a happily-married hermit’s life in a small town not far enough from Seattle, reading and writing poems, tending our fruit trees and meditating.  He writes because good poems are invitations to engage intrinsic values in a culture that only values tools.  He has published poems with Melancholy Hyperbole, Wild Goose Poetry Review, Red Fez and Clementine Unbound, and pending with The Hamilton Stone Review.  He has a degree in philosophy from UW but spends far more time now reading poetry.

 

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