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Mercies Found in Christmas Light

Tom Sheehan


Across this newly thickened pond
my night skates chatter up clouds
of mist as dense as the Milky Way.
Underneath, the fish disbelieve
the sudden hardness of their sky.

The darkness makes me love
all the mercies found in light.
Only the blind could love light
more, given one more chance;
a flake of pond ice in their eyes

with a star caught up inside.
If I dare to listen I hear an event
of ice fracture, a shore-to-shore
cracking underfoot, schismatic,
a round of forgotten artillery;

or my booted cutlery slashing
lines on the sugar-white surface,
crackling an electricity that divests
thinly clad wire. I am on the pond
after midnight and there is light.

Clarity speaks on cubes of air.
The wind has teeth for the back
of my neck. Only my left arch
is tired, and that from an accident
once on a night moving lightless.

What matters is I am not blind.
Light comes in spheres, or long, thin
lines, in the dusts we know of ex-
plosions. Light is in the cold air
slingshotting pellets at my teeth.

It is what first comes of darkness,
and all the mercies we’ll ever know.

Mercies Found in Christmas Light | Poetry by Tom Sheehan

Tom Sheehan served in the 31st Infantry, Korea 1951-52, graduated Boston College in 1956. His books are Epic Cures; Brief Cases, Short Spans; Collection of Friends; From the Quickening; The Saugus Book; Ah, Devon Unbowed; Reflections from Vinegar Hill; This Rare Earth & Other Flights. His 28 published books include several western collections: The Nations, Where Skies Grow Wide and Cross Trails from Pocol Press; Six Guns, Inc., by Nazar Look, and three titles issued in 2016: The Cowboys, Swan River Daisy and Jehrico. His works have appeared in Rosebud, Literally Stories, DM du Jour, Danse Macabre, Linnet’s Wings, Serving House Journal, Eclectica, Copperfield Review, La Joie Magazine, Soundings East, Vermont Literary Review, Literary Orphans, Indiana Voices Journal, Frontier Tales, Western Online Magazine, Provo Canyon Review, Vine Leaves Journal, Nazar Look, Eastlit, Rope & Wire Magazine, The Literary Yard, Green Silk Journal, Fiction on the Web, The Path,, The Cenacle, and more. In process are Valor’s Commission, Keating Script, and three collections.

He has 31 Pushcart nominations, and five Best of the Net nominations (one winner), and short story awards from Nazar Look for 2012- 2015, and a Georges Simenon Fiction Award. He is the 2016 writer-in-residence at Danse Macabre Magazine.


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