S&R Literature

S&R Poetry: Five Poems by David Landrum

The Mathematics of Sin 

the time I did not turn the other cheek

the time I fought an unjust war against
	a herd of vampire bats in suits and ties

the time I said, “The Devil is an ass”

the time I lied like the Egyptian midwives lied

the time I stole to study poetry

the rainy night I rested in your arms

Nightshade Rounds

Nightshade belayed its poison vines,
dormant beneath ice polished
by rain and wind. Summer saw the fair
where the pale Amish girls
in striped blue dresses stared at my ear-ring
and we bought Georgia peanuts and blue glass.

I still can see the tables underneath
beach trees, the piles of kitsch and junk
for sale—the patient antique monk might find
a treasure somewhere in that jumbled trash,
but you and I were reticent to vow
to that or anything. Our vows would wash
away like waves on Erie’s shore where nightshade grew,
and die like mayflies in one summer hour.

Our distant rendezvous came to an end.
Rain fell like in the raw old days.
What can I hear but abstract music now?

I listen to Bruce MacCombie’s Nightshade Rounds—
meandering guitar, no melody, no resolution,
notes—logical, yes, their ostinatos hard,
improvisations and a theme, entwining, pale
like nightshade breaking through the thawing ground,
under the moonlight, under wandering mist,
vine-fingers reaching up, poisonous prayers.


No more entrances,
and the exits,
their reverse sides,
all closed up.

Dreams had gone live-wire,

Out on the street,
hope had had
its corpse removed.
The yellow do not cross tape
sanctified its spray-paint form.

No exit. Sartre’s hell,
but so quotidian.

A thousand years
of rigmarole would be
my sentence—
purgatorial bath
to lave me smooth
and keep me mewling
outside locked-up room.

This kind of darkness,
silence too;
silence’s threat—
what lurks
and does not use its voice.

A gallery
with no pictures;
empty museum;
bookless library;
a sterile cave.

A zone of fellowship
with nothingness
where nothingness
might take a form
or take my soul.

How did the metamorphose
settle so that I
tilted the building?

How did I end up
standing in the sun?

Über Alles

rough surfaces
the Aryan art
above the doors
pale marble Vikings
at each end

the Hungry I
hashish shotguns blown
the ten-cent pieces
and the German girls
in earth-tone miniskirts

small piles of hog-root
near the ripening manure
that ten-mile run by desolation row
down past the viaduct

huge spider-webs
over Rhineland vineyard hills
mountain monasteries
and the old lady
collecting two pfennig
to let you in the pisser


Babylon went from stone     to symbol where
we hung our harps     the place
of every hateful bird     metropolis that fell
in one hour and all     the merchants of the world
wept tears for her
so can a place
become ghost-haunted     by more
than goat-demons     cavorting through its ruins
or persons phantom     like quisling
the man erased     even before a firing squad
blew him apart     how many people know
he was a man     his first name was Vidkun
and that he had a wife
a woman can become a jezebel
the semiology of things
Adam would call
a something what it was     and elephant
and fennec fox emerge
already you are codified
a ruin of memory     what once was flesh,
your flesh and mine


David Landrum’s poetry has appeared in such journals as Gloom Cupboard, The Blind Man’s Rainbow, Small Brushes, Web Sol Review, and many others. He edits the online poetry journal, Lucid Rhythms.

Categories: S&R Literature, S&R Poetry