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Gary Copeland Lilley

Gary Copeland Lilley is the author of four poetry collections: Alpha Zulu (Ausable Press, 2008), Black Poem (Hollyridge Press, 2005), The Reprehensibles (Fractal Edge Press, 2004), and The Subsequent Blues (Four Way Books, 2004). He teaches in Port Townsend, Washington.

By This Poet

2

Alpha Zulu

I know more people dead than people alive,
my insomniac answer to self-addressed prayers

is that in the small hours even God drinks alone.
My self-portrait; gray locks in the beard, red eyes

burning back in the mirror, the truths of grooves
and nicks on my face, one missing tooth.

I'm a man who's gathered too many addresses,
too many goodbyes. There's not much money

or time left to keep on subtracting from my life.
Except for needs I can pack everything I have

into my old black sea-bag. To all the bloods
I'll raise a bourbon, plant my elbow on the bar

and drink to the odds that one more shot
won't have me wearing a suit of blues.

I'm so exposed, with you all of me is at risk,
and if that's only one side of being in love

that's the one deep down that proves it.
Here you are sleeping with me, narcotic as night,

naked as an open hand, and the skinny of it is,
what makes you think I am afraid of this

when I once lived in a cave, moss on the cold wall,
all my bones scattered across the floor.

Unmarked Grave

Old man, if it'll help you rest, the shotgun
that has gone from first son to first son

did not come to me, but I do wear the epitaph
of one of your old suits. I remember we stood

in the order of our birth years, children
of the children you left, all holidays

waiting the big Buick to pull in the yard.
For those meals of ash, now you have no stone.

I remember how much you drank and cussed.
Pistol, you burned your people like a torch.

A weed stalk is the devil's walking stick,
the bastard, I know it matters to you

that none of your blood will bring a flower
and nobody but me will cut this grass.