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Gary Fincke: After War News

This evening, in rural Pennsylvania,

a crowd forms near the storage lockers

abandoned by the nameless, dead maybe,

in prison or dementia, missing the rent

for so long nobody sympathizes

when the auction begins, a few dozen bids

thinning the signals until the price stalls

at fifteen hundred dollars, a better gamble 

than a few months of lottery tickets.


The moon, lately, was a celebrity, full

and a few miles closer than usual, enough

to bring three neighbors outside near midnight.

One of them suggested Auld Lang Syne,

but I was alone with remembering

the approach of planet Melancholia, 

how, for one perfect night, it was sized 

exactly like the moon, the sky brilliant

with the fascination of malevolence


A perigree moon, science calls it, tides

heaving higher, but those three neighbors 

soon talked about televised storage wars, 

excited by the unknown. One repeated

the story of how eleven hundred dollars 

earned a vintage Corvette, and because

he had never been inside my house, I thought

of him bidding if it were foreclosed, how much

he’d risk for what he imagined I treasured.


Each spring our village sends trucks to collect

the objects we see as trash—a typewriter,

a VCR, a lawnmower, two rusted grills—

each of those hieroglyphic possessions

spelling what we will not store. Soon, the moon 

ordinary, a fleet of cars and trucks will invade 

our street, the scrupulous or poor permitted 

to thin our garbage, value in so many ruins

that nearly all of the useless vanishes. 


Some bargains we make keep apprehension 

from screaming. Invasion drives the news.

The defenseless make weapons from trash.

This semester, a colleague has died 

during class, the first day, when his students,

all freshmen, knew him only by name or 

stories shared by veterans. One witness 

said she could see silence, like a cloud, 

smothering his body. The others nodded.


My father, who surrounded himself 

with silence, taught the imagery of stars.

On clear nights, when I visited, he turned

talkative in the back yard, picking out

even the lesser-known constellations—

bird of paradise, eagle, whale, the two

hunting dogs that I accepted as his way

to enter paragraphs that introduced

stories set, as he aged, further in the past.


Now, though he is thirteen years dead, 

I am sending a postscript, how, lately,

it’s been declared that cave paintings

in Europe depict, not animals,

but constellations. That there was, 

from prehistory, metaphorical 

portraiture of the distant, and

I have stood, tonight, in the safety

of my yard to squint for patterns,


thinking of the high risk for translating

the language of night scenes, sacrifice, 

sometimes, attacking those eyewitness 

who, after a time, began to believe 

the world’s ceiling to be decorated 

by gods so generous they displayed 

an encyclopedia of the world, 

every pin prick of light with purpose, 

something more than beasts waiting 


to be discovered by those willing

to risk the sharp-toothed and clawed.

The future was still as unformed as

heaven, a wish in need of language.

An idea, not yet named, was unborn,

but already more than flesh, a shape

revealing itself, imagery evoked

in unreliable light. It is possible,

still, to imagine chanting in caves


newly decorated, a single syllable 

repeated with the lilt of sudden awe.

Though such comfort proved elusive, 

the land violent and cruel, so little 

to be done about suffering despite 

spears and clubs readied nearby, 

whatever else might be said lost 

in eviction or death, that gallery

given over, as it often is, to brutes.

Copyright 2022 Gary Fincke

Gary Fincke has won numerous awards for his writing, including the Bess Hokin
Prize from Poetry Magazine. He lives in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania. 

5 comments on “Gary Fincke: After War News

  1. Amy Chaos
    March 27, 2022

    I really like the 3rd & 4th block!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Barbara Huntington
    March 8, 2022

    And it’s a few days after the day I finally sold my late husband’s Nip it pinball machine ( like the one Fonze played) and the new owner sent a picture of a score sheet inside. My husband’s and stepson’s games 1978, the guy knew what he was getting. I continue to lighten the load for when the kids have the chore of figuring out why I saved so much stuff, a time I don’t care anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sam Barbee
    March 8, 2022

    A wonderful poem, inspiring and defined by familiar symbols and metaphors. Love it!.

    Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on March 8, 2022 by in Poetry, Social Justice, War and Peace and tagged , , .

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