I Can’t Stop Imagining Your Death: 4 Poems by Matt Thomas

I’ve included an original photo of a wasp, taken in our pasture, that I think represents the theme of these poems Matt Thomas

I Can't Stop Imagining Your Death

Your ragged snores scoring the day losing seconds like
bright feathers shed onto black dirt
each breath snagged and restarted, stubborn as the planet's inertia
and yet yours is not a friction-less existence
so I worry, sure, but that’s not this, this is 
playing your absence, 
crying on cue tears that heat
the material of the present to impressionable goo
and stomping in the puddle of it. 
It's harmless, no big deal.
Sometimes I imagine your death.
I'm not prescient. It's nothing. I shouldn't have mentioned it.
It's just that in moments of transition, 
such as now, sun setting, estranging the house and your breathing, 
or when some unexpected light or cloud disfigures a familiar road
and causes me to become momentarily, startlingly, lost,
I imagine you dying.
No different than thrilling at the wind stirring dead leaves, 
everything going to play, to steady the staggering present.

What / Nothing

A photo
of dogs long gone
to look at it is to feel
the furred skin sled 
over fat and ribs
Dead dogs looking lively 
at the down on your cheek
what / nothing
your question / my answer
accidentally true.

When you stretch I feel the

shake of your daily climb 

up a use-shined ladder 

leant against my optimism

tousling the jangly suckers, 

buzzing my fruit, your wing noise 

a resined horse hair sigh

that the keeper is coming.

Self-Harm at the Outlet Mall

You are looking for a sundress.
And it occurs to me.

A wet footprint retreating 

between a dead chickadee and my sneaker, 
grass straightening to the light,
a calm spot in the chop 
of water rippling toward 
Old Navy, Lululemon, Ann Taylor. 

Not in the rain, after, 
in the steam of returning heat.

I’m glad to be here with you.
But this country is all teeth.  
I'm tempted to lie down next to the bird, 
tell time with it, 
be the guy who's fucks flew off, 
that the world walks wide around.

It’s obvious, despite the signage, 
that we are most real in the nose. 

I can’t be the only one 
carrying sad luck like a fidget toy, 
distracting my mind 
with motor commands 
while the world sucks the evidence 
of my being back up into the sky.

I don't want to give up on you, 
or finding your sundress,

I just have to believe 
that it’s normal to be tempted 
to cut a thin cold moment in the heat, 
to allow my eyes to catch rain, 
and despair 
that living won’t allow it.

Matt Thomas is a smallholder farmer. His poetry has appeared recently in Dunes Review and Bluepepper. He lives with his partner in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

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The pigeons sit, resting on the wall of
A rich old bird who owns one of the muse
Houses I back onto, and somehow I grow
Transfixed, this weed is really good I
Suddenly think, as I stand staring at them
As if they’re new friends, wondering aloud
Which one will go away first.  Which will
Dessert me first, like so many others in
This sorry excuse for a life, I think as one
Moves back down the roof and out of
Sight as another turns their back to me but
The other two remain, steadfast and strong,
Staring right back at me and this stand-off
Goes on for a while, I’m maybe even more
Stoned than I think, and sure enough it’s me
Who grows bored first and, as seems to be
The way of this and so many other days, I know
It’s time for another smoke, another distraction.


These words came and whispered
Sweet nothings in my ear & I knew
My muse had returned.

A month, a long
Long, awful long
Month since I last sat down &
Laid the words on down
But now, at last, I’m down
Down enough to know
I’ve got to get this down
Before I fall any further.


The street of ill-repute has struck again
Bringing me a diamond in the rough.  I
Was walking home, just now, from the
Laundry centre, nothing really spectacular
To report there, just another of those typical
Monthly rituals, when as I walk on heaving
All my gear behind me out the door and down
The street I run into an old bar-man I know.

 We exchanged pleasantries for a while and
I told him of my frustrations at waiting on
A call from a man up top of London Road
Waiting on a call
A call to come round
Buy something good
And be gone from there in the blink of an eye.

Today however the old bar-man came through
As I now sit here, high as I like, listening to the amazing
Miles blasting out Sanctuary
As at last my appetite returns and
In the space of twenty short minutes my life has changed
Taken a up-curve on this previously most frustrating of days.



Bradford Middleton still lives in Brighton on England’s south-coast where he works part-time in a shop and full-time on his words. His latest book, The Whiskey Stings Good Tonight, was recently published by the Alien Buddha Press. Recent poems have appeared in Cajun Mutt Press, Cacti Fur, Fixator Press, Horror Sleaze Trash, Rye Whiskey Review and the glorious Mad Swirl. He tweets occasionally @BradfordMiddle5.

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