Spring 2010, Volume 8

Poetry by Derek Richards

A Burial at Sea

Eddie wanted his ashes tossed into Gloucester Harbor after midnight, raining, specifically requested the captain of the boat to be drunk.  Three of us loaded coolers with Pepsi, Coke and ham sandwiches.  Sobriety had been good to us.  Eddie had often hinted about getting clean himself.  Into a rain like a thicket of solemn eyes, the boat drifted from the docks.  Adrian was the first to add vodka to his Pepsi bottle—no drama, just an automatic response to the late summer wind.  When Alex started sniffing and scratching I knew the rituals below deck had begun.  I stared out at the black waves and thought about Kay.  Eddie had often come to me to sort out his fights.  Back in those days, sharp knives and I had a romance.  The Eastern Point lighthouse exposed beer bottles and wild iris with each staggered blink.  I heard seagulls crying.  Keep drinking, Eddie, keep drinking and everything will be fine.  Kay keeps a calendar on the refrigerator, tracking my sober days.  Each morning I thank God that dreams don't count.  Let me guess, she'd asked, overdose?  We haven't made love since I mentioned Eddie's final wishes.  Bagley keeps downing shots of Jameson whiskey, steering the boat with one spasm-pale hand.  Instincts inform he was drunk long before reaching the harbor. Stage Fort Park is a smudge of shadow to the south.  I'd slept there every night when I had been homeless.  The aroma of dirty-salt-water adds insult to temptations.  Easy to think of Kay cooking breakfast in nothing but high-heels.  Eddie passing the needle with a grimace of joy instantly desired.  Hey, man, I don't think a couple of beers are going to hurt.  On our first date, Kay had been sipping on a Bud Light draft.  So, it's impossible for you to just have a couple?  Why?  Louis hanging from an oak branch.  Sandy's suicide handgun.  Davie's liver exploding in a Middleton cell just last month.  No, I can have a couple.  Then it's an endless afterwards, you know?  Adrian informs us that it's 3 a.m. Eddie's favorite time of day.  I turn to Old Jimmy, the ritual still going on down there? Candlelight exposes nothing but ghost-white rails on mahogany.  Kay will kill you, brother, and then she'll kill us.  Nodding, I point to my heart, sit down at the table.


BIO: After failing miserably as a rock star, Derek Richards began submitting his poetry, August 2009. Over 150 of his poems have appeared in over seventy publications, including Lung, Breadcrumb Scabs, MediaVirus, Calliope Nerve, tinfoildresses, Opium 2.0, Dew on the Kudzu, Sex and Murder, Splash of Red and fourpaperletters. He has also been told to keep his day job by Quills and Parchment. He deeply misses handguns, hospitals and hell-raising but he is also almost forty. Happily engaged, he resides in Gloucester, MA., cleaning windows for a living.