Early Release ©

By Roy Dean Doughty
Written July 28th, 2008

Listen here for my reading of “Early Release.”


Spread out like green lace doilies parallel
To the ground, these cedar branches
Serve as the perfect infrastructure
For a spider’s web, whose silken cradle
Becomes, this morning, the incongruous
Expression for a beauty alive in the very
Gut of cold predation.  A soft, green pollen
Has collected in this little hammock,
And as the breeze gently lifts and rocks
The bed, more pollen from above snows
Down to fluff its cushions.  How we long
To rest in the hand of this delicacy, and be
Again, that body of spirit — as soft as feathers —
Whose assemblage of death and loveliness
Makes such a lilting motion, so that we gaze
Up, in wonder, as if, from the pellucid swell
Of gravity’s ponderous sea, we might take
One step, two, fall forward, ascend,
And soar out of the confines of flesh —
That prey for lurking spiders —
To rest our cares in this intimate beyond.
A car drives by on the street, just one
Of many, and shakes the cedar,
As, pulled back from this green otherness,
We feel the swell of a different order
Of assemblage.  The canopy trembles,
And our two eyes are not glad.  Just here,
At the outskirts, a small and inconceivably fine
Shimmering has signaled to us of death,
While we, still bound in the heavy reds
Of incarnation, stood helplessly below,
Rooted in mire, our vision running back
And forth, back and forth, in the green-laced sky,
Like a soul that is lost in the infinite forests of light.

Stuffed Shirts ©

By Roy Dean Doughty
For all the Victims of 9/11, Iraq, and Afghanistan
Written February 13th, 2009

Listen here for my reading of “Stuffed Shirts.”


How dangerous these cross-country caravans
Have become, the road cutting through high stone
Canyons where men-myrmidons waylay
Weary travelers, their sharp pincers driving
Us into one corner or another of mortal impoverishment.
Yes, yes, there are occasional breaks in the multitudes
Of storms, when the moon, half shadow-eaten,
Appears above the feral sawtooth mountains,
But we still fear the abandoned desert city
Of Petra, where the counting houses were hewn
From living stones, as if a nightmare premonition
Were stalking us from the crevasse of a deep memory.
So great are the troubles that beset us,
That night frost and desert sun, flood and thirst,
Vie, from the same slot of time, to attack us
With our own indoctrinations.  When we look
At our cities, we see, that they, too,
Are hewn from something obdurate, yet fragile,
And that their grids of small windows,
Each one precisely placed, each one perfectly squared,
Form a narrow slot between rock and rock,
And there, caught between an ancient ruggedness
And the modern grid, in a gap scarcely wide enough
To hold their distressed bodies, we see them pinioned,
Those like us, who came before us to these wilds,
The last and most petty purveyors of a culture,
Entombed by an impregnable idea.

Dark Eucharist ©

By Roy Dean Doughty
Written March 25th, 2009

Listen here for my reading of “Dark Eucharist.”


Old, scabbed over with parasites,
Lugging the stumps of bent, black, useless limbs,
Brittle, and drained of fire, this plum tree,
Even as he sprouts his first spring coppery leaves,
Looks wintry, wizened, withered.
He stretches feebly, but cannot touch the sun.

Certainly he is a harbinger.
But his pinched message can only be deciphered,
If we track the rugged volutes of his pain,
Not only to this verge where physical sight
Has pushed him to the limits of his form,
But also, inside, where intense and active swarms,
Bunch, dense as shrouds, punched at their very core,
With the purple plush of threadbare, hungry lights.

The tree has been here for many springs and summers,
Seen much of the blue of day and the blue of night,
Always pressing his urges down to that black river,
Where frail men guide blue sails beyond the silence,
The flumes of their wakes a languid shuffling of coppers.

Bend down, you voyagers, listen to that water,
Hear how its urges still ignite a center,
Where even the dead can gather to feast on plums.