Sheila-Na-Gig online


Matthew Jones


Matthew Jones lives and works in Massachusetts. His writing appears in The Worcester Review and Vita Brevis Poetry Magazine. He is a graduate of Tufts University and Northeastern University School of Law. When not working, writing or spending time with family, he fronts the band, Col. Pike & The Expedition.


A Film Covers Marlborough Street

I could take the train: North Station to Prudential,
but tonight the red bricks call
like Chet Baker singing Almost Blue after a fix

Fine mist dampens hair
Appearing and disappearing
in beams from passing cars

A cad mounts stairs two at a time
holding a bouquet of red roses
Each blossom watches his eyes lie

Jesus doodles “abogado” and stares out the window
Listening to the voice of an old lover
“Where does happiness go on holiday?”

Street lamps joust with shadows
that dodge and skitter,
dragged away by oppressive captors

Au Pairs commiserate
Their voices tell of petty gripes
A conspiracy of phrases that trip unrecognized

Sky blue pills melt into a pool of chilled Riesling
The dye rises like trails of smoke from distant stacks

Candied ginger rests against a pile of gritty wasabi
Remnants of a meal eaten for sustenance
Like pumping diesel into a rusty Volvo

Life breaks anew

Stem-Cell Transplant

She complains of being tired
Eight stairs a high altitude ascent
The ward is home now and
You weigh the risks
For illness lurks
Lifted from elevator buttons or coffee cup lids

But you must resist the urge
To be in the room
To touch her
To soothe

Chemo leaves a film
Synapses short and patience frays
Like the copper wire at the end of her speakers

Blood counts foretell like oracle bones tossed into a pile of burning embers
Doctors read the cracks convinced of their predictive powers
Some believe the sentence and call fourth
Longing to feel a touch familiar once more

On the worst day her voice creaks
Like that warped floor board where the water came in
Fear, a spirit distilled to its essence,
Tastes like a rancid walnut
Hope is an indulgence
A bargain with currency
Banned from circulation


The Archdiocese

I wore an Eagles t-shirt to bed every night
and clean white cotton briefs
The cabins smelled of baked pine and sweat
Piles of dirty laundry spilled from each corner

They filled our days with sports and outdoor activities
Evenings reserved for mass, prayers
and pre-approved folk songs on acoustic guitar

Father Mike, the youngest priest, earned our trust
with warm smiles and jokes that made us laugh
all the more to hear a priest telling them

He was cool
out in the woods
surrounded by boys

That spring my body had opened the spigot
testosterone wrestled control away
at the slightest provocation

Early morning was dangerous
before consciousness returned
a cabin mate might go to the outhouse
might see the wretched rising

This one lasted so long it ached and
I prayed, “Please God, let me dream tonight;
grant me blessed release!”

I heard him climb the stairs
Soft steps and floor boards creaking
Our favorite young priest knelt at my bunk
Made the sign of the cross
And whispered a prayer

I dared not interrupt as
he fumbled under the sheet
until his hand found its ambition

Stop, please just stop
before they wake

The archdiocese made the news this morning
Sixteen years after the Spotlight shown
and Law retired to Rome
I scroll and scroll
Eager as a proud parent
confirming honor roll status
Name, parish, allegation
Name, parish, allegation
52 priests
But not father Mike
%d bloggers like this: