Robert L. Dean, Jr.
Robert L. Dean, Jr. is the author of The Aerialist Will not be Performing: ekphrastic poems and short fictions to the art of Steven Schroeder (Turning Plow Press, 2020), At the Lake with Heisenberg (Spartan Press, 2018), and a forthcoming chapbook, Pulp, scheduled with Finishing Line Press for July 2022. A multiple Best of the Net and Pushcart nominee, his work has appeared in MockingHeart Review; Suisan Valley Review; October Hill Magazine; Flint Hills Review; I-70 Review; Chiron Review; The Ekphrastic Review; Sheila-Na-Gig online; Shot Glass; Illya’s Honey; Red River Review; KYSO Flash; MacQueen’s Quinterly; Thorny Locust; River City Poetry.
Everything Must Go
The doors of the world stand open — Charles Wright, Nostalgia III
The closeout to end all closeouts,
twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
Look: there’s grandpa’s wooden cane, missing the rubber tip.
A faux Samurai sword some would-be adventurer (me)
paid too much for at Pier 1.
One hame of a pair from the wall of Uncle Fred’s long collapsed barn.
The stub of a Kansas City Athletics ticket from a game I don’t remember
attending (I don’t remember attending any).
A sickly green stalk of asparagus from Mom’s backyard garden, one of
many my brother and I didn’t eat, no matter
how much Velveeta cheese sauce smothered it.
A rotted apple with two bites missing.
A mouth of soil from which a brother’s blood cries out.
Splinters from the other two crosses on Golgotha (both just as true as
the third, and much more under our skin).
A charred wooden stake with the eye of Polyphemus dripping from
the pointed end.
The heel of Achilles.
The armor of Goliath.
The Kiss of Peace from the Garden of Gethsemane.
The sixty-fifth hexagram from the I Ching.
Li Po’s empty wine flask floating in the Yangtze River’s upside-down moon.
Two World Wars and my father’s induction papers for the second one, plus—
an added bonus—my mother’s security photo
from the Herington air base.
My draft number from 1971 and various period articles about Canada
and how to get there via a new underground railroad.
The woman I loved and lost (the second one).
Some words I could never fit into a poem, and some left over
when all was said and done.
A pocketful of sunlight from the first day of the world.
Hate, curses, boils, plagues, strife, despair, one second before Pandora unseals
the mouth of the jar.
Hope. Faith. Love.
Rock bottom prices.
Get ‘em while they last.