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At Night on the Deck Testing Mindfulness




Floodlight, a night garden.

Plants native to this wet earth

casting shadows under halogen glow,

as roots find refuge through the heat

in a high water table;

July and dry August dragonflies

sharing air with insects

he has no name for,

as they only fly this small lake

barely out there, a black pause

beyond a reach of light.


Awkward in this forced repose

his goal, his need, they tell him,

to do nothing. No book,

no background music,

no distraction of yet another

grasping love—slow this racing mind.


On the bright deck,

the chaise lounge is a hair shirt,

as he strives for quiet mind

in clouds of hungry insects

drawn to light, drawn to sweat,

his thoughts somewhere between silence

and implosion.


Just let go to this ultimate quieting

of matter, of garden to mind.

To see beyond this halo,

beyond the frame his life

has been stretched against. Look

to the dry silhouette of branches:

Douglas fir, alder, and cottonwood.

He has everything and he envies himself

to distraction. He envies his beautiful things

to destruction. How he wants to tarnish

his exquisite taste, this deck, garden of light.

He cannot live in this house he was born into,

building of flesh and blood.

He shouts this out through the light

into the dark, across the small lake. It carries

across without the solace of echo.


Just this neutral pause

that could go one way

or another.





Green dotted byways:

scenic routes driven into

this waste. Land torn asunder,

desert West, austere tooth grit

of blasted taverns and sand promises.

Body pressed to body, inebriation

of what we can only deem as simple

inebriation. Nothing more. No less.


Just creosote, blackened limbs

hang-dogged in this ridiculous heat.


Dreams of blank slate memory.

The click of the odometer,

gathering miles, as you shed

those  traumas you've caused,

crushed like desert pests

introduced to windshield physics

splattered at the dream of

100 MPH.


I rely on nothing but

sallow joy in movement.

Pockets empty of everything,

even my most beloved lint.


Pressed against polyester

the motel blanket resolves

any ambiguity as to my true situation:

separated by thin walls and my thin lies,

a small parking lot rare with rain,

so very loud as doors slam against

the thin air of a gaping need

disguised as anger. A loud voice seething

Crystal, you’re fucking going home

with me. Now!


The comforting clang and shudder

of the ice machine: I watch

as somebody's grandmother

pushes the lever, large thighs and ass

breasts spilling like milk

into this warm night.

I dream of her soft embrace

in this room made more enormous

by each tick of the motel clock.

I want to ask her, loud enough to penetrate

these thin walls, but not too loud:

Please hold me in place until morning.


Each mile burnishes a layer of residue.

Stopping brings it back, an easy patina

brushed thick like varnish in the hands of a hack.

I once could count on my affect

to fall within that acceptable range.

Now I only drive away

from the variance.



BIO: Rod Peckman lives in the Pacific Northwest and is happy to report that a sun's been out full-force for the last two weeks (and it's still May).  His garden is getting unreasonable in its fecundity--a nice problem to have. His poems have appeared in numerous online and print journals, including Barnwood, Clapboard House, Babel Fruit, Thieves Jargon, Juked, The Sylvan Echo, Silenced Press, The Houston Literary Review, The Tonopah Review, Flutter Poetry journal, and A Hudson View. He is lucky enough to live on a lake--which is really a petri dish of fish, frogs, beavers, otters, eagles, ospreys, herons, and ducks, deer, and the occasional bear who is inordinately fond of the barbecue on the back deck. His Yellow lab is a saint.

My inspiration: "I stopped writing for 17 years. I’m still trying to figure that one out. In short, my inspiration to write again was trauma, and writing was my way of getting my health back. It is too trite to say writing saved my life; but not an overstatement to say it played a crucial role."


"At Night..." : constant struggle

"Variance": the dream of escape smacks headlong into the starkness of alone.

Photo by: Ostillac Callisto


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