Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Al Maginnes: The Skeleton Parade

Old legend whispers them, bent-backed, crook-kneed from the nest

of their military graves

in the low-ground cemetery by the river. They hobble a clacking

cadence whose time

no mortal can count as they parade the lip, fleshless sentries assigned

to the endless river,


parody of the military formations they once were. They vanish from sight

at the instant one believes

they are visible. I knew some who lived near that river, who ventured

in search of their parade

in the hours when churches lock their doors. And one told stories of an uncle

who’d been in wars,


who had visited places where there are festivals for the dead. Each family

cooks the best feast

it can afford, welcomes anyone who comes to the door. Later there is drinking

and dancing in streets

crowded with bodies. But the dead have their own music and march forth

only once a year.


Their dance is tied to a calendar we can’t read. So no one sees them on

the proper night, allowing

the story another year to age. And those who have left youth behind stay away,

knowing that soon enough they will

join that procession and walk on bones softened with mud, gone weak between

what is unsure and what is unseen.


Copyright 2018 Al Maginnes


Skeleton Parade by Ruth Olivar Millan

One comment on “Al Maginnes: The Skeleton Parade

  1. winterlight
    October 31, 2018

    Brings to mind a Robert Aickman story – the Real Road to the Church.

    Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on October 31, 2018 by in Poetry, War and Peace and tagged , , , .

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