The poetry of R.T. Castleberry

That Dilemma

I wish there were something to pray to,
to carry my friends to safety,
towards a quick healing.
There should be a higher power,
a Seraphim Royal whose answer is
not the supreme mystery of silence.
I wish I could lift my eyes, bow my head,
summon the absolute belief that
would raze the human curse.
I can’t. I don’t.



Blown Down Blues

Knife in pocket, sleeves rolled,
I walk to the door,
my hand out to the End of Days,
the task of anticipation before me:
to the club, to the morgue,
to the merriment of Mars.
“Mercury Blues” ranging in my head,
I take a New Orleans walk,
drive the Memphis car.
Black cough roughens,
port wine and whiskey muddied on my tongue.
Like a dobro stir,
dogs of war and warning bristle as I pass.

Dodging scorpions on Industry Row,
I settle at the bar,
take a selfie with a Tanqueray and tonic,
watch the bouncer take his stance.
We hear the cops raiding, block by block,
watch the satellite feed as
they scatter justice in the late August heat.
Harmonica notes swooping in the dusk,
Colorado Jesús is busking hobo train songs,
clearing callers for the girls upstairs.
A rosary swings above the register,
another is wrapped around my wrist.
The owner dims the lights for dancing,
lights the votive candles, the purple and red.

Spotlight beams slip
like a host of ghostly hawks.
A ravening moon is hazed, chased,
slivered in a fog bank.
On my knees in the street, I’m faking praise
as the widow’s courtyard,
the temple market ignites.
Militant’s torches fall in smoking pyres,
banner chains rasping on poles.

This century is a mystery of lies,
taught with false martyr’s fables,
the killer’s profane scripture.
I’m reaching an old misery,
reading a clear ending
in furies of reprisal prophecy,
the beat of boots on cobblestones.

A Pushcart Prize nominee, R.T. Castleberry is an internationally published poet and critic. He was a co-founder of the Flying Dutchman Writers Troupe and co-editor/publisher of the poetry magazine Curbside Review. His work has appeared in The Alembic, Santa Fe Literary Review, Comstock Review, Roanoke Review, Pacific Review, Iodine, Foliate Oak and Silk Road. Internationally, Mr. Castleberry’s work has been published in Canada, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, New Zealand and Antarctica. Mr. Castleberry’s work has been featured in the anthologies, Travois-An Anthology of Texas Poetry, TimeSlice, The Weight of Addition and Blue Milk’s anthology, Dawn. His chapbook, Arriving At The Riverside, was published by Finishing Line Press in January, 2010. An e-book, Dialogue and Appetite, was published by Right Hand Pointing in May, 2011.

One comment

  1. “That Dilemma” confesses the mortal desire, which most of us know all too well, to somehow embody more certainty in the course of our existence. Now that I am older, when I face this temptation to seek a God more controllable and less mysterious, I recall that I am merely a living cell within a body of dimensions I can not comprehend. It could be that I am the blood cell of a cow, a bone cell of a cougar, or the digestive cell of a cockroach. How could any of those cells have the slightest knowledge of their greater being? I try to accept the utter insignificance of my place in the universe, even as I strive to live fully and use religious teachings to guide me in the ways that I may acknowledge my spiritual connection to that which seems outside of myself as well as those worlds within my corporal being.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.