Poems by Charles Fort

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After The Rehearsal (video)
We gathered your choreography of Afro Psalms
our wedding vow performance on marbled floors
at the Museum of Nebraska Art MONA To Its Friends.
You practiced for hours at Harmon Park’s
rock Garden raised by WPA flophouse workers
free room and board for the farmers and artists
the shapers of Central Nebraska’s Stonehenge.
We gathered the African Kalimba and rain stick
metaphors of black magic and voodoo blood
for our evening’s curtain call in the corn palace
under a shower of  circumstance and disease.
Forty five minutes before the poetry reading
your dance and the art exhibit opening
we were seated in the small doctor’s room
half-alive in thin aluminum chairs
among the scorched leaves in the hollow
and the bright wings of the angels noble
in their wild and hovering insignificance.
It was the doctor’s first and correct call:
I am sorry to have to tell you
you have lymphoma.
There was nothing to be said.
We walked into the distant world
thirty minutes until our performance.
We would not tell our daughters tonight
and we gathered our poems and music
hollow instruments that moaned in our hands.
As we arrived and hurried into the museum
to a full house of literati and wise docents
the sandhill cranes and life studies seemed alive
with the avant-garde of the central great plains.
You were stronger than the hunger of gravity
and you had not doubled over for an hour
and the strong medicine they gave you
made you more of your second self.
I saw the throttle of pain in your eyes
with ten long minutes to show time.
Our daughters Claire and Shelley
sat in the front row with large eyes
small hands and their larger hearts
knowing something was wrong with you.
They had stared into the devil’s wishing well
as you walked on stage they wished you well.

 

New Year’s Eve  
It is a fearful thing to love What Death can touch. 
There were clear signals you were not well
fourteen days and fourteen nights doubled over.
The evening’s champagne was left unopened
tied in blue ribbon like death’s bright palette.
The horse drawn carriage arrived at midnight
with pouches of a used and rare blood type
as the devil’s fortune took the devil’s turn
and catheters and picks left a territory of welts
like the discarded stars falling in your eyes.
The hooded driver passed the medicine bag
to Dr. Bascom passed down by his grandfather
who bowed to the South Dakota mountains
wiped your forehead and took your rapid pulse.
This was not a part of the evening news
unequal to holy war and starvation of nations
only comfort to a husband with two daughters
left on the back porch with no crimes to unlearn
who knelt together like angels on the great plains.
There were clear signals you were not well
with two weeks of doubt until they scanned
your organs as the fog lifted over the Platte River
a smoky black mushroom like a newborn stillborn
known only as a case number left at the prom door.
There was no wind in Nebraska on New Year’s Eve
as the head nurse tapped your veins for the morphine
until your white count rose and your platelets danced
and your recovery made a good country doctor flinch
after a distant signal found the artery of remembrance.