Return by Robert Golden

Canandaigua Lake at night:
lights of summer homes,
pinpoints in the dark–cave fires–
occasional motor boat,
distant laughs of parties.
underneath, whispering:
plash of an oar slicing
water, the birch bark canoe
gliding, wounded rider headed
south, pushed by wind
past Sullivan’s* burning villages,
lonely whining dogs.

Thruway headed west at night,
bugs splattering his windshield
Day-Glo reds and yellows.
He jerks, startled:
road kill, humps of fur,
bloodied bodies heave,
slowly reforming,
slinking into the woods,
dark bosom.
90 miles to Buffalo.

At his old home
his long-dead father, short-sleeved, trim
white shirt, his still-red hair,
appears in the yard,
just asks: What’s up?
Beside, his dead mother stares,
insane grey eyes full of pleading.
He stares back: quizzical, smiling.
A child, awake to feel
dawn’s wet grass.

*In 1779, American Revolutionary War Major General John Sullivan led an expedition to Central New York that destroyed 40 villages of Iroquois tribes allied with the British.



Robert Golden’s poetry has appeared in such journals as California State Poetry Quarterly, Exquisite Corpse, The Eclectic Muse, and Lake Effect. In 2016 his poem, The Call, was set to original music and performed by a professional actor in a podcast by Music for Prose. He also writes nonfiction and has a blog,, where he writes occasionally on the contemporary work environment. He is a resident of New Bern, North Carolina and the Vice-President of Carteret Writers.

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