PUBLICATION OF HART ISLAND
I learned today by accident that my poem, "Hart Island," was published in April by North of Oxford in issue #4, The Pandemic. If there was an acceptance email I must have deleted it by mistake or perhaps my spam filter grabbed it. None the less, this is good news.
Hart Island by J Thomas Brown
They come to me, a time-worn island, once more.
They come to me in rows two wide, in layers three deep,
and I am too weary from the holding and can hold no more.
A child, grasping a handful of my grass, once said to a poet:
What is this grass? He answered he did not know,
that it seemed to be the beautiful uncut hair of graves. 1
The tides, in unceasing motion, have worn my sides away.
My belly of earth, no longer fit for the task, splits, gives up its secrets.
See the clean white bones on their march into the bay.
Here, the water laps a shoulder blade resting on my gale eaten shore.
Nearby, protrudes the thigh of a Union prisoner who starved in the South,
and here, the ribs of one too poor to pay.
Over there, the jaw of a woman who died alone,
unsaved by burning pitch and cannon blast to scare Yellow Jack away.
Close by, the bones of a homeless man found in an alleyway.
Enough, enough. Today, a backhoe and fresh scrobis 2
for the unclaimed who have passed.
May at last their dreams be happy,
beneath the leaves of grass.
1. From Song of Myself by Walt Whitman, 1892 version . . .it seemed to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves.
2. scrobis: a trench or grave