Tim Peeler

After God 19


He tried to be indifferent,
To dwell on the big picture,
To only consider the great themes,
But he cared too much for the doomed:
The crazy man that walks the road
Each day, picking up bottles and kicking
Burger wrappers to the ditch, the toothless
Middle aged black woman in the funny hat,
Stammering over reading words while
Her tutor checks her I-Phone, the mute
With the blank stare, who grunts and moans
In the restroom, as he scrubs the library toilets.
He tried to be indifferent to the accidental
Encounters of the day, but he woke at
3 AM to a black storm of empathy
Over which he had no control and when
He finally fell asleep again,
He dreamed them all to Heaven.


Harvest 34


Fatty Westbrook’s dead,
Caught running from the cafeteria
To the classroom in the first grade,
Marched to the office by Miss Speckhardt,
Fatty, begging, pleading, then falling
To his knees when the principal
Reached for the paddle.
Fatty Westbrook is dead,
Fell from a fireman’s ladder
And busted his head,
A year later his wife
Took her life,
A gun in her hand,
No one to say, sorry
For your lonesome time,
Fatty Westbrook is dead,
His pudgy cheeks no longer red,
No fires to suppress,
No memories to douse.


Henry River Poem 9


It wasn’t the hand me down overalls
Or the crew cut that momma gave you,
Not the way you kept your hands
In your pockets and looked down
When you answered the teacher.
You were bred for a mill hand
Your sister told you when you
Insisted that you would be a fireman
Or a big league ball player.
It’s stamped in your eyes, boy,
She said; it’s a smell that
Gets in your blood, and you
Just nodded, looked at the
Gravel road under your
Brother’s old worn out shoes,
But when you walked past
The brick school in the town,
You saw how the highway ran
So straight and far and flat
That in all your imagining,
You only wanted to follow it.


Henry River Poem 32


The director gimped around the mill hill
On his bad knee, thinking replacement
Before the next red carpet. Ruined houses
Crouched at various angles along the hill,
Walls punched, porches sagging, tin roofs
Rusted, with some whole sheets curled
And creaking at the mildest puff of wind.
His heart was momentarily moved
As he imagined the barefoot urchins
That once lived here in squalor,
Most likely ignorant of their plight.
Behind him he could hear the river
Sifting through the dam locks, too loud,
He thought, and the grass greening
More each minute. In an hour the
Assistant to his second assistant
Had called in the roundup;
Another had double-checked
The stack of disclaimer forms.
Vans full of extras dressed like
Little Rascals’ rejects would unload
As the sun set behind Baker’s Mountain,
And the director’s tall shadow
Would settle in the gravel parking lot
Beside the company store
As Roger Daltrey’s voice rose
From a broken down old Jeep,
Threading the curves
Down State Road 1002:
“Meet the new boss,
Same as the old boss.”

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Tim Peeler is an educator from Hickory, North Carolina. His most recent poetry books are Waiting for Charlie Brown, a collaboration with performance poet Ted Pope from Rank Stranger Press and Checking Out from Hub City Press - a finalist for the 2011 SIBA poetry award.