Subterranean Message ©

By Roy Dean Doughty
Written August 16th, 2009

Listen here for my reading of “Subterranean Message.”


The wind exhaling warmly from these fissures
Suggests that we are dealing with one or more
Living creatures, something, at any rate,
Of immense proportions, possibly underground cities,
Utopias, distopias, bunkered suns, a world
Where the drum of our feet makes a constant thrum,
Like the curl and the crash of very distant breakers.
They know about us, there, these sub-sub people,
But they only seek contact for salubrious mandates,
Their interventions confined to human fringes,
Those hovering dangerously between dimensions,
Where the fantasies of waking and of dreaming
Miscegenate and breed.  Sometimes they come to us
As squat, droll creatures with troll-like humanoid bodies
And the plumed heads of birds.  Yet their language
So closely resembles ours, it is as if some aspect
Of our loved ones speaks from a covert place,
But speaks of things so shocking, so absurd,
That their sayings defy the logic of surface love.
Still, there are times, times of crisis,
Times hovering near the fringe,
When we hear the earth tolling, deep, within our chests,
And harassing us in the language of buried birds.

River Bed ©

By Roy Dean Doughty
Written August 16th, 2009

Listen here for my reading of “River Bed.”


Our tale unfolds in one of those bleak villages
Where the people cling tenaciously to custom
As a dreary way to put an end to time.
Here, it is always winter, forever night,
And although the snows lie thick upon the ground,
The river, which drains this darkness, never freezes,
Yet keeps its violence in the deepest cold,
An icon to undying perturbation.
And yet, how strange, that here, where drudgery reigns,
Among these most reviled, reviling people,
That here, where time has killed imagination,
We find again the wizardry of the word.
Now we can see the possessors of this secret
Threading across the white fields to that verge,
Where all earth’s snows flow down to that wild river,
As one by one, the bearded men, their women,
The misused children, and the boney dogs,
All step into that hectic turbulence,
To enter a world of star-lit blue and calm.
How silently they move across that floor
Of lunar silt, which drifts below the rage,
Each one discovering the predestined niche
Of softest warmth and deepest consolation,
Each one, like clams, which nestle in loose sands,
Now disappearing into sleep’s closed hand.

A Pleasant Abduction ©

By Roy Dean Doughty
Written September 30th, 2006
(for Jan Saeger)

Listen here to my reading of “A Pleasant Abduction”


These disappearances are as ubiquitous
As they are vague, although each
Remembrance follows a by now familiar pattern.
For example, one becomes mesmerized by the sea,
By the intricacies of a forest,
Or by the globular, sacred shapes of sagacious stones.
Soon we note that a peculiar pallor
Enlarges a thickly layered grey and yellow sky.
And then comes that little fist-sized crick,
Like a sickly green lump, on our left side,
Just below the ribcage.  So, the memory returns.
Perhaps we were six or seven, the age when the depth
And the breadth of the sea applies not only
To fathomless waters, but also to leaves, to faces,
To animals running like mercury under glass.
We went missing for days, for weeks,
Itinerant workers were arrested for our murder,
Stock ponds were dragged for our corpses,
But suddenly, much to the authorities’
Irritated bafflement, we reappeared,
Well-fed and happy, in a remote cave,
In an abandoned farmhouse, or we are seen
Miraculously emerging from the sea,
Glittering, but dry.  Now, we are adults,
And, as the disclaimer cautions, “certain restrictions apply.”
But we saw them then, those numinous kidnappers.
We lived with their bright eyes and small, animated faces,
While their touch, like honey, sweetened our thin, bruised bodies.
We played with them there, in those depths,
Which once engulfed the whole of our childish lives,
And found us singing in a luminous ocean,
Free from the shallow squalors of Earth’s mad giants.