Ron Houchin

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Closing the Restaurant

     
   

The coffee urns cleaned and shining, napkin
holders loaded to bulging, catsup bottles
refilled and cleared of crusting red,

I am more than ready to head for home.
While I’m balancing out the register,
the last cook pulls out of the parking lot.

I can almost taste silence shining in afterglow
of the freshly-mopped floors.  I want
to leave, I want to stay, like lolling in the peace

that comes after a long convulsion.  Soon,
traffic tapers to a distant hungry rumble.
Ghosts of appetite begin to wander among wiped

tables and empty salad bar.  They will chain
both doors, sabotage my Chevy and hold me
hostage until I pour grease and reheat the grill.

     
           
 

In a Dream of a Yard Sale

     
   

Strangers appear on your lawn or walk
     right into your open garage.  Purses
     hanging off their forearms and video-cams

fisted like pistols, they want,
     like the government wants, to take
     your belongings from the house.

When they find something among
     the ‘Big Boy’ dolls and baseball cards
     they like, they remind you, you were part

of the conspiracy.  And now it feels
      like a dream— prices were not written by you
     nor kept in your head.  On each item,

tags hang like pillory collars.  When a Reds
     ball cap, a statuette of Trigger, or an eyeball
     knife is lifted from one of your tables,

it tears loose from your body.  The blood
     drains down your drive, running
     like a secret from a piece of your life.

     
           
 

Summer Castle

     
   

Up from the creek I lugged
one almost-flat stone after another,
my shoulders burning like Merthiolate
in an open scrape. 

As if meeting the hard world
for the first time, my fingers chafed
in sandstone’s and granite’s
grip.  In the side yard

I fitted and mortared them with mud. 
Everyone else’s tower, keep, castle
was built of cardboard or thin
wooden crates,

but I’d been spoon-fed the Bible
and knew with enough
rocks, I could be king.

     
 
   
     
 
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Ron Houchin has six books of poetry published, one collection of short stories, a seventh poetry book due out this fall from LSU Press's Southern Messenger Poetry Series, and thirty-four unpublished book manuscripts.  His poems have appeared recently in or are forthcoming in Birmingham Poetry Review,
The James Dickey Review, The Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review, Five Points, and others.