Cellar Door ©

By Roy Dean Doughty
Written August 12th, 2009

Listen here for my reading of “Cellar Door.”


Every year the old root cellar drifted farther
From the house, and the number of steps
Down into that abandoned hole
Seemed to multiply, so that what was once
Familiar as a place to store milk and eggs,
Only an easy step from mother’s kitchen,
Was now an enigma to be shunned.
And yet that weathered door
Incongruously lodged in its grassy mound
Held an inexorable appeal.  Also,
The experience of stepping from noon
To midnight without any mediating
Gradations crashed polar opposites
Together in that darkness in a way
That was thrillingly alluring.
The place ate children, hands on long
Tentacles darting out like swallows
At dusk to pull them in and down.
Down.  Once in, that was the sole
Direction one could move.  Down.
Out, of course, was no longer even
A concept.  And how the lost one
Changed in that descent!  where black
Stars, like locusts, swarm into the body’s
Defenseless cavities, their fluxes and floes
Captaining that strange, amorphous integrity
So typical of childhood’s exuberant explorations.
So that even now, as you look around, your eyes
Only two probes that bob on flexing wires,
You cannot say how you got here,
Or who you are, and when those small,
Blue-skinned people come out of their cloud
To collect you as their food, you will
No longer even have arms to fend them off,
Or a mouth to cry to no one: “I am gone.”

Partial Birth ©

By Roy Dean Doughty
Written August 9th, 2008

Listen here to my reading of “Partial Birth” 


Someone big took an ax, and chopped the moon
Exactly in half, the surviving truncation
Fleeing across the star-mangled heavens,
And making the whole below-world vivid
With silvery graininess.  After that,
Everything became important, and a
Strange music burst from the pores of leaves.
A desperate contest was raging, the fight
Conducted through surrogates, gigantic
Horses lying at the feet of each of the four
Combatants: One, wounded, and breathing
Heavily; one, in the throes of birth; one,
Laughing, and only cloudily visible;
And one, a female, rising in dangerous
Flight.  What happened from then on was
Both beautiful and deadly, brutal and filled
With magic.  A drum snare, a crash,
The woman returning with arrows.
The cloudy one becoming someone
We once knew.  The horse on the ground,
Disemboweled now, and screaming.
The pregnant one delivering an animal
Full-grown and wet with dew.  We wake up,
Cowled in placental sweat.  Everything
In the house is galactic, and small, and quiet.
Yet something decisively brings us to our feet.
We go outside.  And there, in the grass,
Is the other half of the moon.