“A Shorter Bridge to Heartache” by SB Stokes


A Shorter Bridge to Heartache

at the bottom of a stagnant lake
lived a dead forest
black trunks standing
knuckle deep in muck
branches simply armature
for a fluttering array
of gray scarves
blowing in the watery wind
molds and aquatic plant life
growing quieter in near darkness
the forest laid down years ago
gave up the sun and the breezes
the same arguments from the same birds
slid back toward the sandy edge
then gradually leaned over
one after another they followed
under the forgiving cover
of progressively longer nights
a very slow migration
the stars really weren’t watching
eventual full immersion
nothing left uncovered
but the land around the lake
the gray water always present
became all any tree could remember
oxygenating the murk for a while
the contradictions grew
in place of leaves
instead of hopeful young twigs
stanchions indicating nothing
huddled together under the surface
standing sunken in an air more dense
a different kind of time passing
light arriving but
only in soft whispers

A fourth generation Californian, SB Stokes has lived and worked in the San Francisco Bay Area all of his life. He holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University and is a former poetry and art editor for Fourteen Hills: The SFSU Review. He is a founder, event producer, and art director for Oakland’s Beast Crawl and guest curated Quiet Lightning’s third anniversary show with poet and QL board member Meghan Thornton. His poems have been published in numerous publications both in print and online. Several of his readings can also be found by searching “SB Stokes” on YouTube. He has produced the blog MASS COMMUNICATIONS since 2004 and his first book of poetry is A History of Broken Love Things from Punk Hostage Press.

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