here lies two poems by C.D. DyVanc
(TW: Domestic violence, prejudice, death/cancer)
I. When I was young, my grandfather would tell us stories at the grey-wood picnic table, under these giant spreading twin oak trees.
My favorite story was of Ooey-Gooey: the worm who crawled onto a railway track while looking for a brand new world above his home in a dark-place hole.
For his trouble, though, he was run down by a row of blaring rust-old locomotive cars that, hauntingly, squealed back to his skin and first heart the worm’s (by then) most unfortunate name.
I liked the way he rhymed.
II. So many times I wondered if I had earned slow-spread corrode, if I had earned big-city isolation, if I had earned a push, that one feeling of her punching in my jaw, $10 in the bank with $150 on the bill, or if I had earned being “just not enough for this timeline”
because of break-ups typed on cell phones; or
because, I met a girl, once, who washed me away so very easily, like what they call “the bottom ground” where I am from
lowland fields, where you plant and replant your crops to break even between the floods each year;
but sometimes that, even, is to no avail in the stormier summers;
because when you are born in this small place, you are taught that certain people are “the devils” of a great big world – the worst kinds, them – the ones you can’t understand when you pass them speaking in the Walmart or huddled about at the crosswalk corner; “not good enough”
because they came from not-this-place, and
because they took those unwanted jobs in that hog slaughterhouse 50 miles down the highway that put the family’s small-farm operation out of business when you were five years old
that was their fault, you know?
so you were taught to say that “they’re scary”
“Them damn __________.”
which roughly translates to “We are scared.”;
truth is, though, you haven’t met a fear of them yet;
because people aren’t the places they must go in search of better place;
because when I was a sophomore in high school, my grandfather died;
cancer, of course
he left the farm for his treatments, and was just never the same when he came back.
And when he died, I was too terrified to see him die
he was washed clean, by then, of his talking, and his eating, and his laughing...could not sit up on his own,
so I stayed at home and watched the newest episode of Fullmetal Alchemist in the pitch dark with our mismatched living room furniture, and, instead, prayed for even a modicum of misbelieved magic of my own; and
because I watched my little sisters crying, and then sleeping, as my parents drove less than a mile down splintering gut-grate gravel to watch him, and to whisper over him, until (they tell me) my grandfather was just simply washed clean of his breathing, too;
because I can still hear his booming laugh – the echoes caught up between the branches and the bark of those rot-split twin oak trees; I hear that all the time.
III. The story told was that sometimes, when you leave the fear of old homes – just for that leaving – you get something called “it”; they say, “You get what you deserve.”
But who-ever deserves the car that hits them?
because sometimes, the engine is a quiet one – just sneaks up on your back and makes you into blowing dust. It washes you away, and only cries your name out after the fact, if it does so at all.
Sometimes, you’re looking every which way, and then, sometimes, you are just gone.
Because that’s not your fault, you know?
The looking, and then looking away?
I must think that’s just not your goddamn
(TW: Mental illness, abuse)
It is just so bright, when it’s on,
when it’s on, in the dark.
And they say, what you leave on,
you leave it where it’s at.
Sever/ it away. Put it in a box –
loud, booming, garbled with emotion –
turn the knob, and then, screaming into an abyss – into
black – just a color, or a lack of color, I suppose – that circle
of moving paper folds and folds/
your slapstick/ head-drums/ dynamite/
C.D. DyVanc lives in Jefferson City, Mo. He is an award-winning journalist, and, in his free time, enjoys jumping out of airplanes, reading, and being the epitome of the living dad joke with his fiancee and stepson. His works have appeared or are forthcoming in Rue Scribe, Dream Pop Press, Five:2:One's #thesideshow, and Drunk Monkeys. His chapbook, rhi(n.)oceros, won the 2017 Midwest Chapbook Contest, and is currently available through Greentower Press.