Four Poems

Karloff in Drag

“Nous sommes la triste opacité de nos spectres futurs.”

Sea tides fall

and hermits crawl

through dark,

deserted streets,

and Italian is

the language of


Harpo in Spock ears

blows his flat horn,

and in crystal caves

we pray

for darkened sleep.

We pray to balance

above the crowd

on narrow twine,

where Mr. Kurtz ain’t dead;

he’s but sleeping like a babe.

And Spanish is

the loving tongue.

If you’d like to leave a message

for Mr. Kurtz,

please press one

as you search for forgiveness

at the bottom of the well.

He will respond

at his earliest convenience

and cast a final stone.

And English is

the language

born for brawls.

  1. “We are but the sad opacity of our future specters.” Mallarmé, Stephane. “Toast Funèbre.” Stephane Mallarmé: Selected Poems. C. F. MacIntyre ed. & tran. P 58. U of California P, 1952.

Hash Bash: Ann Arbor, 1994

We parked atop

the Maynard St. garage

for the annual rally.

Dressed to the nines

in my favorite tie-dyed

t-shirt: purple w/ skull and roses,

it was unseasonably warm.

We approached a group

passing a joint

and gazing over the rooftops

of the city.

The river in the distance,

winding through

leafless April trees,

cold from snowmelt

and the memory of John Sinclair.

They shared their smoke

and we joined in that

age-old ritual:

puff, puff, pass.

I coughed out my hit

when the haggard guy

in white sneakers and

acid-washed jeans

pulled up his pant leg

to reveal an ankle tether.

He laughed about

breaking parole,

and we silently

left the car park.

After Soccer Practice

We shed our shin guards

on the sidelines

and hoofed it to the bend

beneath the Howard St. bridge.

Parents chatting

in the parking lot

as we dove into

the cooling waters

holding adolescence

for another

August afternoon.

The Bear River creeps

north from Melrose,

in essence, just a smelt stream,

but for us,

spectacular and pure.

For us,

our private

fountain of youth.

Aunt Pam (1953-1996)

“Never again,”

she said over burger and fries.

“Never again will I bring

that spoon to my nose.”

That was our last lunch together.

She rarely ate after that.

Her main nourishment

came from junk.

Never took a shot,

the nose was enough.

Sick and transparent,

within a year Pam went

from burger parlor

to funeral parlor.

I knew. I watched from afar.

I did nothing.

What could be done?

Who could be told?


we cleaned her house.

“Help and you can have

her record collection.”

I jumped at the chance.

She had such taste in music –

and in other things –

Talking Heads, Prince, Traffic, CSN.

I listen to those old records now and almost finish a side

without dwelling on

her descent into

that nightfall of demons.

“Pre-Roads Down” still

brings the tears, the

wild gravity. Jim Gordon’s

crying percussion:

emblem of the thrashing sting.

Junk sick and fancy free.

Her pain, her loss,

her sense of justice burned

as tar terrorized

her tattered form.

As she slowly said


About the Author

Andre F. Peltier (he/him) is a Pushcart Nominee and a Lecturer III at Eastern Michigan University where he teaches literature and writing. He lives in Ypsilanti, MI, with his wife and children. His poetry has recently appeared in various publications like CP Quarterly, Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Provenance Journal, Lavender and Lime Review, About Place, Novus Review, Fiery Scribe, and Fahmidan Journal, and most recently in Menacing Hedge, The Brazos Review, and Idle Ink. In his free time, he obsesses over soccer and comic books.

Twitter: @aandrefpeltier