Summer Lightning William Alton Poetry

local_library Summer Lightning

by William Alton

Published in Issue No. 198 ~ November, 2013

Old women sit on their porches drinking sweet tea and old men play chicken foot in the park, the tiles clicking like dry bones.

Count Basie swings from the speakers set up in the gazebo, the big band sound bringing an urge to dance among the older crowd.

Children scream on the swings and the jungle gym and their young mothers gather at the edge of the grass, talking, one eye loose in their skulls, taking everything in.

A homeless man works the crowd trying to round up enough change for a pack of cigarettes and a pint of two dollar wine.

“Can you help me?” he asks, moving from person to person.

The sun begins to slide into the mountains and the old man gather their pieces, stumping away into the iron light.

Old women close their doors, shutting out the night, the sound of traffic.

The homeless man lies under the hydrangeas, sipping his wine, remembering that he too had a family.

The night comes now and everyone’s home, everyone’s thinking of supper and bed.

Everyone sleeps through the lightning licking the trees, a bright flash from an empty sky.

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William L. Alton started writing in the Eighties while incarcerated in a psychiatric hospital. Since then his work has appeared in The Oklahoma Review, The Red River Review, Poet’s Corner and Whalelane among others. In 2010, he was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He earned both his BA and MFA in Writing from Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon where he continues to live.