Premonition ©

By Roy Dean Doughty
Written February 20th, 2009

Listen here for my reading of “Premonition.”


Because our houses stand on tremulous fill
Atop the dormant body of a swamp
Once forested by cypress and by fir,
Sometimes the resinous odors start to seep
Though our too-porous floors,
And waken us with the unsettling breath
Of thwarted ancientness.
Time is displaced, and we feel the loneliness
Of that forest taking us from our beds,
Like the gush of an early tide, our small
Skiff lifted by an inexorable force.

Our fate, on such nights, is both dreadful
And wonderful, as the skiff  floats, not only
On brackish serpents, their strong backs
Made muscular by the mysteries of the sea,
But also on our own bright brackish blood,
In the way that animal images flood our dreams.

Now we stagger through the dark house,
And stare out the window at a sky, where,
There and here, disturbing smears of clouds
Reflect the city’s red undying glare, where
Clearings, like plush cloth, sprout tears of stars,
Where listening is a feeling in the skin,
And skin is scent and sweat and exultation.

A voice from nowhere says: “I never sleep.”
And hearing that bruised, huge strength pulse through our feet,
We smell, with lizard fear, the word “begin”.

How It Began ©

By Roy Dean Doughty
Written February 16th, 2010

Listen here for my reading of “How It Began.”


In the land that was, before all our explosions,
The animals could talk,
But their talk was carried through thin,
Transparent tubes, so that what they said
Only reached their intended hearers,
And did not mar the general atmosphere.

The depth of the silence was hallucinating.
And the people of those times,
Who were naked and speechless,
Were only able to bathe their lives in calm,
Which was seen, not heard, in vivid blues and greens,
Colors so haunting, so ever-glistening,
It seemed as if they were always being born.

The people, envious of the animals,
And drunk on these colors,
At last began to dream.
These were strange dreams that they had,
Always vaporing from the fresh wet of their world.
And the dreamers worked their mouths as they dreamt their dreams,
Wanting somehow to taste them as well as see them.

The suspense in this stillness was unbearable.
It was enough to cause speech to explode.

Vessel ©

By Roy Dean Doughty
Written March 26th, 2009

Listen here for my reading of “Vessel.”


The day has slid away like green letters
On a blue ground, or blue letters
On a green ground, or red ones
On a white one.  But the list of its
Constituents is written so tinily,
That the sound of our intense straining
To read it, cracks the necks, backs, hips,
And knees of those the sun has compressed
For too many seasons.
The reader finds the message illegible.
That’s how night happens,
The exhaustion that comes without
The respite of sleep, the mesmerized
Gawking at the twitching shadow striations
Invading the vulnerable house,
The furtive look out, up, and into
That thick mollusk flesh embedded
So luminously, so sharply,
With all those little, aimless shards of fret.
We are tired. Tired.
So the eyes become passive,
But the sky does not.
It fills with fluttering bits of stars,
The mollusk flesh dissolving into mists
Of the tiniest of dragonflies, each one with a tinier,
Forgiving, human face.  They hover, almost
Successfully, in one place, the mass
Drifting westward from a living east,
But so slowly, so silently, that they seem
Like those ragged saints who stop us
On the street, and move their cracked lips
Plaintively, but do not speak.
The body cries out for relief.
And now we hear a chitinous, crackling sound,
As the whole skeleton shudders, and collapses, down,
Down through the misted flesh, like shattered glass.
Now we are hollow.  Now we are still.
Now we are ready to be filled.