Two Poems by Bill Ayres


AFTER THE SUN SPLIT IN TWO
Bill Ayres

One half continuing east to west
Around the earth
While the other half began to orbit
From south to north,
We wasted years fighting
Over who was to blame. 

Each sun has tried to outdo
The other in brightness.
Each has staked out
It’s time in the sky,
So that, most of the time,
One can forget about the other.
When they meet, they glare.
Plants wilt. Roads melt. 

Night has shrunk to an hour,
Too short a time
For stars to dominate.
While they can,
They blink and twinkle fiercely. 

The moon, wooed by two suitors,
Turned pink
And became even more voluptuous.
She stays pregnant.
Her children speckle the sky.
They are all different sizes.
Some are grey. Some are gold.
Some are hues
We have yet to name. 

Because we could count on them,
Clouds became our gods.
Encouraged by worship,
They fill the air with music
—continuous thunder.
We acknowledge
The rain and mud they bring as blessings. 

Did I say,  

Since the split
There are twice as many colors? 

Did I say,
Sight has changed
So that everything stays visible?
Yes, more than that,
We hear every sigh, every mumble.
Flowers and herbs have proliferated
So there are new scents, new tastes.
Even touch is more than it was.
Having so much to judge
Became a burden.

With no secrets,
We had to limit our definition of sin. 

Who knew that would be so liberating?

 

Author’s Commentary: "After the Sun Split in Two" came out of a narrative verse class taught by Tim Seibles. He told us to embrace

the strange. Anne Sexton wrote some crazy wonderful/wonderful crazy poems. I want to write as well as her without having to live that life.


HERRINGBONE
Bill Ayres

I am wearing this coat
because a man I knew died.
His widow noticed I am the size that he was. 

One time he told me
how he went to visit a boy he knew
on a ranch when he got back from the war. 

A week later the boy’s father, the rancher,
asked how he had leisure
to be out riding horses. 

Tom told the man he was killing time
between roles in the movies.
He loved to tell stories. 

I’m wearing this coat
because my friend died,
though it’s not really cold enough yet.

 

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Since graduating from Virginia Wesleyan College, Bill Ayres has worked in 7 bookstores. He's loved every minute of it. His poems have appeared in Commonweal, The Hollins Critic, Plainsongs, and Bird's Thumb.