Harbor Town in Plague Years

Scarlet, white, and green,
Fluids of every shade,
Mix among the crowds
Swarming and teeming
Towards the docks
Where ships await other ports.

There, in the mass,
Rabbits and wolves,
Snakes and lambs,
Stare out at the water
Or look back into the empty city.

There is nothing left for them.
Even the last resort happiness
Of daily automation,
Of walking in Metropolis time,
No longer exists.

They are going to die here—
They know this with a grave certainty.
Many accept, many would rather not.
All, however, agree that this harbor city
Is a poor place to end.
In fact, it wasn’t that great for living either.

Russian Poets

There’s something gorgeously sad about the Don River bards.
Their lyrics are like pagan hymns to eldritch Slavonic gods—
Dark, mystical, black roses
That drip obsidian blood onto the fingers that are
Wrapped around pistols
Full of suicide bullets.

East Liverpool, Ohio

Stagnant, oh how stagnant unpleasantly stagnant
Lies the Ohio
On the Ohio side
Of the Hancock County divide.

Boredom strolls by
In once luxury cars
Manufactured in Detroit
By hands yet accustomed to crime.

Shallow, jaundiced faces boil up
From the sidewalks where
Pretty Boy Floyd
Lies dead underneath the layers of
Finished cigarettes and dried beer.

The Dead at Noon

The men come slowly, slinking in the sunshine.
Ties askew above rumpled shirts.
Eyes stay stuck on their shoes.

Some students meander on their way to the library.
They look more lively,
But keep to their cell phones.

There’s a few elderly out for a stroll.
The blue collar types sit on flat-bed trucks;
Sandwiches and cigarettes divided between them.

The unemployed are inside, stewing.
Some bums are panhandling—
Loose change rattles around baseball caps.

This is the noontime scene everywhere.
There is no diversity at lunch
Like there is no diversity in the grave.


“The Dead at Noon” is an excerpt from Benjamin Welton’s new anthology, Sick Inside the Citadel. You can purchase the book from Terror House Press here.


“Russian Poets” is an excerpt from Benjamin Welton’s new poetry chapbook, PANIC. You can purchase the book from Terror House Press here.