Fish Skeleton
(Pass Christian, Mississippi)

       But a relic
       of movement,
       to the lowest

       of bone,
       in the chapel
       of sun, cloud,
       moon and star,
       it lies
       in stark repose,

       a woodless
       whose taut
       white strings
       the wind strums,

       through the horror
       of a gaping
       the stark,
       gratuitous music
       of death.

The Cock
(deep East Texas)

       The darkness recoils
       from the seizure
       of his crowing.
       He vulgarizes

       the daybreak
       with the raw,
       gaping wound
       of his comb.

       Spurs stud
       the filthy yellow
       of his feet.
       His plumes

       vivify the dreams
       of milliners.
       In the company of hens
       he struts,

       in his legendary
       of denial.

Baby Ruth

       Though conceived by rape in a place wherssssse a thimbleful
       of blackness was tantamount to the volume of a bushel,

       her mother still carried her to term and had her
       by natural childbirth. After the rape, her mother

       was never the same, absentmindedly indulged in meth,
       and passed the damage to the mind of Baby Ruth.

       Despite the terrible odds against her, with God’s grace,
       Baby Ruth made it to adulthood, and with the optimal use

       of compromised intelligence, earned her keep as the church’s
       cleaning lady. She still works there, left in her bléssed lurch

       of gray, a strange angel absent either wing or horn
       whose hands, groping in the darkness of rubber gloves, turn

       filth into the immaculate conception of cleanliness,
       leaving the sanctuary bejeweled with the bliss

“>       of light flowing like waterfalls through panes of stained glass,
       shattering the mirrors of pews with shotgun-blasted godliness.

Larry D. Thomas is a member of the Texas Institute of Letters, and served as the 2008 Texas Poet Laureate. As If Light Actually Matters: New & Selected Poems, was issued by Texas Review Press in 2015. WEB