Carl Wade Thompson – Five Poems

poetCarl Wade Thompson is a poet and the graduate programs writing tutor at Texas Wesleyan University. His work has been published in The Concho River Review, The Eunoia Review, Anak Sastra, The Mayo Review, andLabor: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas.

The Sadness of Nostalgia

As a child, I remember,
that smell in the halls.
Of diapers catheters,
missed chances for toilets,
the scent of humiliation.

They were adults, once:
Fathers, mothers, brothers,
sisters, uncles, grandparents.
Now reduced to wheelchairs,
bent over, arthritic, slow.
So fragile, now,
dependent on others,
their needs scheduled,
rounded out by nurses,
never enough time.

But the smell remains,
a memory that never leaves,
reminding, prophetic,
for I, too, will come here,
not as a man, but a child,
and that scent is with me,
a stain, that will never go,
till I die.


The smell gets to me,
a yellow haze hovering,
never lifts, never leaves,
fills my pores—piss stink.
I hate this place,
house of final departures,
this world or the next.
But the scent hits me,
lingers in nostrils,
flavors my food, speech.
My mind a bathroom stall,
smothers, eating away
what sane thoughts are left.

The halls fill with fog;
we are rotting here.
Nothing but the old and grey,
the final resting place
before the grave.
When night descends
sleep is hard coming,
as the scent holds me close,
its grip tightens,
until Hypnos,
sweat bearer of dreams,
takes me away—

at least until daybreak


Night comes quick, a dropped shade,
Treetops—dark kingdoms in the sky.
The farm is quiet, moonlit,
while shadows bask in outbuildings,
the nocturnal stir,
watching, waiting,
for midnight.

Owl, horned god of prey,
sees all.
Yellow eyes gaze,
what he sees—
Camouflaged in leaves,
he finds food;
helpless white feathers,
a chicken coop untended

He descends swiftly,
wind rush over the plains.
Fall flows through stretched wings,
as he glides fast,
a kite’s descent,
his crown looms,
the air becomes still.
Tearing chicken wire,
claws reach outstretched,
for blood, meat,
food, pleasure,
all the same.

Carnage. His strength,
black talons rend, tear
hens scream.
Farmer hears,
12-guage, his answer,
shotgun blast eviscerates,
the horned owl.
It’s crest, mangled.
Farmer’s son hacks its claws,
brings them to school for Show and Tell.

A Dumpster View

Sits each day, east wing,
rest home odors; piss, bleach,
a constant cloud cover.
Smells no bother,
not now, far away,
her mind drifts,
gaze lengthens.
View’s the same.
A dumpster. All day,
every day,

The dumpster’s grey, big,
beaten all to hell,
abandoned to trash.
Broken glass, shards,
a barefoot minefield.
Left alone,
it’s always alone,
rusting in the sun,
for someone, something,
It never changes,
just sits, waits,
for garbage..

Alone, grey empty wing,
her thoughts stray,
an old lost cat,
too old to remember
the way home.
89 years,
a lifetime running,
The nurses come;
Dead five hours,
she’s stiff and cold as a rail.
Goes out in a black bag.


Grandma hates it here,
hates it like poison.
Five years,
it’s still the same,
sits in her room,
all day.

Anger is the word:
God, the world,
all creation.
I’m the only one
can make her smile.
Today I’m Brad,
her son,
dead twenty-five years.
Some days I’m Carl,
the other son,
still living.
She says Uncle Virgil came,
came to visit last week.
Older brother;
he’s dead, I say,
going on fifteen years.
She nods, turns away;
sorry I said it.

It’s hard, really,
seeing her this way,
mind going each day.
I kiss her cheek,
“See you next week.”
Outside I wonder,
who will I be then?





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