Sheila-Na-Gig online


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), and At the Lake with Heisenberg (Spartan Press, 2018). A multiple Best of the Net nominee and a Pushcart nominee, his work has appeared in October Hill Magazine; Flint Hills Review; I-70 Review; Chiron Review; The Ekphrastic Review; Shot Glass; Illya’s Honey; Red River Review; KYSO Flash; MacQueen’s Quinterly; River City Poetry; Heartland! and the Wichita Broadside Project. Dean is event coordinator for Epistrophy: An Afternoon of Poetry and Improvised Music, held annually in Wichita, Kansas. A native Kansan, Dean has been a professional musician and worked at The Dallas Morning News. He lives in a one-hundred-year-old stone building in Augusta, Kansas, along with a universe of books, CDs, LPs, an electric bass, and a couple dozen hats. In his spare time, he practices the time-honored art of hermitry.


Even Though the Whole World is Burning

Is that us, standing there with our hands
in our pockets, staring into the smoke
and mirrors of what we thought

was the future, until this very moment, when we
stepped into it and found
it already the past, a void of breath, devoid of any

soul living, and who, we wonder, snapped this photo,
and why is it so yellowed, ragged
around the edges, a torn corner mended with the cracked tape
of hope and madness,

and which are we, the wings of doves, the cryptic steps
of the tomb, or if this is
a decision we are in the process of making, how long
will it take, this referendum

for or against apocalypse, what if time is shorter than gone
tomorrow, here today,
what if there is no BREAK GLASS, no alarm lever nearby,

no safety in the matches we finger in our vestments
of secrecy,
what if the Little Match Girl saw no visions and simply
froze to death

in the night, in the street, hungry and unloved, do we pity the carcass
passing it by on New Year’s Day, do we
recognize the scene as us carefully avoiding us, as responsibility

resolutions unkempt, the spontaneous combustion of a life
we cannot explain, even if
our ashes could speak, look there, on the film, a flaw, or a
shooting star, only the

photographer can say, but he has vanished into
the possible impossibilities of this fiery,
shimmering, silver-backed
glass, and left us but a shadow of a confluence in a
shroud of smoldering dreams

*The title is from W. S. Merwin’s “Rain Light.”
%d bloggers like this: