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Tohm Bakelas

hometown streets like open graves


Last night I dreamed it was summer.  
Everything was alive and in bloom.
It was July, one year ago, just a few 
days before my birthday. We were 
seated on your porch, drinking beer, 
kissing under the soft glow of yellow 
lights that lined the perimeter of the 
space we occupied. Beyond the porch 
it was dark, very dark, as if someone 
tossed black paint against an already 
black canvas. The forecast called for 
a bad storm. We knew it was coming, 
just not when. You went inside to get 
us more beer. I could smell the rain.


When you opened the screen door, 
thunder exploded, lightning ripped 
the sky open, and static sizzled in the 
air like bacon frying in a pan. From
the edge of the porch I photographed 
the white hands of lightning attempting 
to touch the green neon clock on top 
of the high school next to your house.

We sat out there for a while, listening 
to the rain, reading poems, talking of
our pasts, dreaming of an unwritten 
future, drinking more beer, enjoying 
periods of silence, laughing, and 
kissing, and holding hands… 

But then I woke up. It was 3:17am and 
the middle of December. Salt trucks were
out brining the streets in anticipation of 
oncoming snow. Autumn, with only six 
days left, was quickly dying, choking on 
winter’s invasive chill. I climbed out of 
bed and walked toward the window. The 
pendulum of my tired breath beat against 
the cold glass. My hometown streets like 
empty graves grew silent. After some time, 
I crawled back into bed, with only myself, alone.

autumn is dead

Outside flicking burning matches 

onto silent streets, the dying smoke 

rises skyward toward vacant dusk, 

the starless sky. Keeping company 

with the dead is easy, having said 

what they’ve already said, they 

never talk back, they just listen.

When words are forced and used 

for the sake of using, all meaning 

is forever lost and becomes useless. 

Circumstantial ramblings such as 

these provide a fogged window into 

a mind plagued by terror, sorrow, 

and a complicated but happy life. 

Walking along these streets there 

is a quiet that only exists on the 

cold concrete of hometowns, or 

so you convince yourself because

it’s easier to believe you have 

something special when you refuse 

the possibilities of anything better. 

The lone streetlight, struggling to 

come alive, flickers on and off.

And like a wounded season that 

had no chance—autumn is dead.

Jeffrey Alfier Matin_Bleu.jpeg
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