The Tower Journal

Robert Joe Stout

Beach Games

For Noah

As you call out
"Come on, Dad! Race!"
sea-glow spasms
into shifting distances
and colors muted into nearness/farness
past and present
myth and now
I stumble in pursuit
of your reflections
of the sunlight
on the sea

then feel you smally muscled
in my grasp
talking jetty rocks
and pelicans

and begging "hide and seek!"
vocalisms that the gulls
pick up an' seek!
an' seek! an' seek!

and I'm not here
and you are twenty years from now
the sky
a black adagio
collapsing as you race
towards one small point of light

I shout just as it disappears
and you come towards me
older, tired,
a yearning man
who looks like me

you clutch
at something in the air
"No!" I cry
“I want your future to be sunlight!”
and sink onto the beach

rippling waves
a clear bright moon
your arms around me
(who is father? who is son?)
"Come on, Dad, race!"
you whirl
—a game again—
and we are as we've always been
pursued, pursuing across sand
towards waves that know us
as we are and were
and soon—too soon—will be.

Melqui the Guerrilla

Listo! Since a child, so clever! sisters, aunts
and cousins praised him. He could sense
wild pigs approaching, find fresh water,
drive a car. Without lessons picked up Spanish,
tamed a monkey, stole a gun. Never saw a youth
so agile!
Nor, said others, quite as charming!
Once he led a distraught merchant
past the drop off where the river swirled into a gorge
so narrow daylight never lit its banks.
And left him there! His neighbors giggled.
Took the goods he carried with him!
Then went back and brought him
to the village to get drunk.

  One day arriving late to harvest melons
smelled strange horses, strangers,
scrambled up through thickened mata,
peering down saw vigilantes
robbing, tromping out the huerta,
sneaked up and stabbed the leader
with his honed steel knife.

Run! mother, sisters, cousins
told him don’t come back!

Trails he sensed or knew
by instinct growing wider, firmer,
burros, wagons, finally even cars.

Whitewashed houses,
language babble, hungry,
thirsty: then an offer:
Oye chavo! Wanna work?

Digging trenches, moving rock piles;
Beans, tortillas twice-a-day.

Weeks, then months, a human burro
trying to blot out dreams of home.
Vindictive foreman: Touch me again
I’ll beat your head off!
Other workmen
joined the fight. Animals uncaged and vicious
they destroyed road, buildings, tractor,
bloody-fisted fled into the selva stealing guns
and horses, trading bootleg, each one
vowing never to go back unless a corpse.

Copyright © 2016 Robert Joe Stout

Robert Joe Stout (Oaxaca, Mexico) is a freelance journalist and former theater director. His poems, stories and nonfiction have appeared in over a hundred publications, including Third Wednesday, Eclectica, Poem, America, Two Thirds North and Chic. He also has published two poetry collections, Monkey Screams and A Perfect Throw and three novels.

The Tower Journal
Winter  2016