By Richard LeDue

The Nameless Dead

Adam and Eve's infinite cousins
(endlessly removed),
and they eat apples too
or don't,
but few believe the worms
lost for turning an apple tree
into a wrong turn,
probably because the ground tastes
like Sunday school lessons
in a church basement, or the swallowed griefs
at a funeral, where we promised ourselves
we wouldn't cry among the flowers,
some of which were paid for
with a credit card,
expired in another year,
which seems to haunt us
as much as the thought of heaven
being just as full as hell.

One for James Purdy: Son of the Voice of the Land

Was it James or Jim?
You are barely a ghost that seemed to only exist
when listed as your father's son,
and Al did write a lot of poems,
but I don't remember any about you,
yet there's one on Margaret Atwood
and her space adventures, so where does that leave
you? Private to the point of oblivion?
Or am I simply not as well read as I imagine?
Even your half-brother has an online article
detailing his life, and how he wrote some poetry books,
which only makes you more
of footsteps in the attic that no one talks about,
while haunting my curiosity.

If I keep writing,

eventually the dead people in my poems
will increase, almost like a life-long
horror movie, with an invisible killer,
hiding under the bed,
next to the dirty socks,
and even as the famous dead
are still
outlined with words
shaped like metaphors
by better writers than me,
the familiar dead will never realize
how something they said years ago
(a compliment about a haircut,
an insult for chewing with one's mouth open,
or some other unpoetic observation)
could turn into a ghost,
saying more about me than I ever could.
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