THIS RUIN, THIS SMOKING RUIN

by Travis Stephens

I have left the charred
        unclaimed bits of my love
on the altar of yesterday.
She was a ghost, she was a
cannibal banshee
stinking of J’Adore.
She was the south wind rising.
Cats did not try for her attention
and dogs learned too late.
Scarred noses, eye the gate, wait
behind chicken wire.
Eventually my heart will be shredded
        with the rest, left in a pile.  
A ship from the East will
open its hatches
will wait for an iron claw
        to slam into the pile, scratch
        out a load to drop it,
dust and memories
a confetti of words and letters
into the ribbed cavern hold.
        The longshoreman
will drive the bulldozer inside
the ship, pushing the stinking pile
flatted and scraped to the bow
until the ship sits low in the water.
Cast off, get steam, get gone.
Eventually the fibers of my heart
will be soaked in acid
then melted and
cast into an engine,
a new untampered heart.
Shiny and new.
Shipped back with others.
May it not find you
        anyone but you.

Travis Stephens is a tugboat captain who resides with
his family in California. A graduate of University of
Wisconsin-Eau Claire, recent credits include: Gyroscope
Review, 2River, Sheila-Na-Gig, Tiny Seed Literary
Journal, Raw Art Review, and The Dead Mule School of
Southern Literature.