James Lineberger

In Issue 1 on May 1, 2008 at 11:00 am
arrayed like these

last weekend
she says
he rowed her across the lake
in his john boat
and she had never been out there before
except when he had
his outboard which somehow made
it seem safer but with
just the oars
and the water flicking up in big drops against
the sunset she felt so afraid
only she didn't want
to let on because this man walter had arrived
in her life at a time when she had
given up the hope altogether
of ever having another love especially a walter
who was the exact opposite of
benny in every way she could think of
one of those people that can fix a car just about any kind of car there
or put a new roof
on somebody's house or the time her washer broke
and water ran all over the kitchen and when
she called him he just laughed
and came right over and took the thing apart and put a new
transmission in it quicker than she could do
a wash and oh god
did he love to go camping so here they were again
another weekend out in the wilds
which is another story
she says like how i have to squat right there like
a indian and pee on the leaves
and off in the distance you can hear the alligators flopping in
the water and calling out to one another
but i got used to it
just gritted my teeth and decided be damn
if i would let him know
how trembly it was and if when we got in the tent at night
if i held him extra close does it matter
whether i'm shivering from the excitement or
just scared half to death it comes out
to the same thing don't it so out there in the john boat when
he looked at me i would just grin
and say oh lordy it is so beautiful here and when i was a little girl
who would have dreamed i would end up
so far from where i was born with hoot owls and things growling
in the dark and the most gorgeous
sunsets god ever put together anywhere
except i'm hoping all the while he
can't see the whites of my knuckles as i'm holding on
to the gunnels he calls them
but when we finally
reached the island and he dropped anchor and i was just starting to
there all of a sudden was
this big glowing white feather that floated right up next to us
only i was too frightened to reach out
and try and grab it so i watched it as it bounced up against
the boat a couple of times
and then just floated away and when things like that
happen i can't help but think benny is still here with me
and we go on
after death in some mysterious way living another life in the spirit
and i believe that i do like
when you
and me used to be together and you would get
me up there and make me ride
the horsey
and spank you on your ass saying giddy up
you fucker git it git me all the way
deep and i never told you then but afterwards i would wake up sometimes
and look over at your
face with your eyes closed
and it was like it was benny smiling at me
like a angel in his sleep
but when i met walter all of a sudden
benny just
went away and until i saw the feather on the water
i was afraid he had give up
on me altogether
and maybe he didn't even like walter not that we were in a hurry
either one of us i mean
it was a whole month
we were together before i could get walter to even kiss me
and part of it was because of the way
his former wife used to sweet talk him all
the time and then took
him for every dime he had so he didn't trust nobody he said
but there was something else too
and that first night
we kissed before our lips even met he told me
the last thing she had done
to him was give him herpes and he was taking valtrex for it
but  there was no guarantee i  wouldn't
catch it too
and if i didn't want to see him anymore he would understand and he just
stood there staring at his shoes
those old cracked leather work shoes of his
lord you would think
that all he does for other people around here he could
at least think about his self once
in a while
but that is walter and there he was so ashamed and he couldn't
look at me and the poor man i just took his face
in my hands and kissed him right then because what
is love anyway
but sharing everything that is
and look at me here i am
fifty-five years old and who else  do i ever want to be with
but walter
and there comes a time in this life
you have to decide
who you are and how you want things to be and i told him that
told him i loved him
and i never wanted to be with anyone else ever
again and i knew
he didn't have any truck with marriage and i said me neither
mister walter barringer!
so that was our first night together
and whew that man flat wore me out i tell you and as you might guess
we didn't either one of us sleep a wink
but the strangest thing is i never contracted the herpes
and even the doctor shook his head
over that because it is so easy it is like like
you don't hardly have to touch
yourselves together down there and overnight you can already tell
you been afflicted with it
but no not ever not even one little
bit of itching
and after i started on the valtrex myself  maybe that had something to
with it but nothing is sure in this world
like the doctor says
and it it wants you it'll find you one way or another
so we just couldn't figure it out
until the day the feather lighted down on the water from out
of nowhere it seemed
and that night in the tent i told walter
how i thought it was benny well you would have to know  walter
to understand this but he didn't laugh
or snort or make fun of it
he just laid there
looking up into my eyes in the lantern light
and he said i be dog
 and see you see
that is my walter he might not
look it but he is a thinking man and he
thinks and he thinks
and he laid his head against my little titties
and he said well whatever it is i just pray me and him
gets a chance one day to talk
things over so i can explain how i used
to hate god but now
i don't know any more i just don't know it is all
a mystery to me
how one minute you think you got things added up and the next
you can't remember any of it
like it never happened like you weren't even
here at all
and you know what he hadn't any sooner got the words
out of his mouth than
the strangest thing happened like it felt like
my whole insides
were itching all over like i was on fire and it was revealed to me for
 the first time how
everything in the world is
hooked up to everything else from herpes to
the white feathers on the water
to the flames of hell if it has to be
and was it hawthorne's book where the woman had the scarlet
letter because i wished i knew
how to reach
walter's former wife and thank her for the great gift she had made us
but we could take it
from there and when i reached over to walter he had
rose up hard all over again
and never mind the discomfort
i did what all i could for him
until we finally fell asleep but  the last thing
i saw before my dreams took over
was benny hovering low
with his box of ashes from the mantelpiece scattering them
out over the water
and wherever the dust settled it was feathers everywhere just like
jesus said
like it was all of us the lilies of his field

James Lineberger is a retired screenwriter, sometime playwright, and full-time poet. He has published seven volumes of poetry and a full-length play available at

  1. i always like this poem. it says so much about love, and it has sex scenes and tragedy and comedy even mysticism like all the best movies. i think you should get sharon stone or no, what’s her name, the one was a model then became a tv star in moonlighting , not cheryl tiegs but the one that looked like her healthier cousin, you know the girl? i liked her opposite that bruce willis, what was his sex appeal anyway, i don’t think the chemistry was great there so walter could be liam neeson or no, he’s too tall, maybe dustin hoffman, yeah , hoffman maybe that new hoffman would do it ya think

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