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John Riley

A Hundred Thousand Rivers

He went to sleep in a dream
seventy years from The War
sleep walked like a stranger into the swamp
dead he swelters
behind the rusted screen door
watching the dunes change shape
in the half-light before the storm
disorders them and tomorrow
arrives with nothing to persuade
no arguments to make
sweet bourbon the only solace
cold water showers and palmetto bugs
leaving eggs in his mouth
The Atlantic Ocean had not been decisive
bouncing over the waves in transport
last girl's squeeze a song
hidden from the water thinking
of where his mother hid the silver
the solid gold chain she wore
entertaining guests with their lifeless murmurings
good times will return for us good people
she said preparing him for war
he wants that silver now he'll
turn his back on the prancing ocean
walk the soft sun-battered road to the city
trading salutes with the dinghy captains
the trumpet player the chronicler
wearing the new white shoes

John Riley is the founder and publisher of Morgan Reynolds, an educational publishing company. He has written over forty books of nonfiction for secondary level students. His fiction and poetry have appeared in Smokelong Quarterly, Connotation Press, Right-Hand Pointing, St. Anne's Review, Dead Mule, and many other journals online and in print. 

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