NJ Poetry Series: ‘Dead Man’s Hat’ by John Chmura

Poetry from NJ writer John Chmura in our March edition.

(A Golden Shovel poem based on the passage, “The woods are lovely, dark and deep, But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep,” from the Robert Frost Poem, “Stopping by Woods an a Snowy Evening”)

A place to divvy loot and hide or bury, the
antithetical graded earth where woods
and unpaved roads converge, signs of life are
scattered and few and far from lovely.
Yammering crows, vultures spit hissing dark
threats, ashen dust, snakeskin flakes, and
unkempt trails taking unwary travelers deep,
cellular dead zones one cannot but
connect with dread, where eventually I
find a hat without the head it used to have.

Evening falls, chills, snow promises
an unnavigable trek, circling back to
one foul spot, damned, mud-whorled, keep
tripping over sticks, no, bones, and
the muffled buffer of empty miles.
Donning the cap, a perfect fit, and I have to
know now my trigger finger will go
through matching powdered holes before
curling up in a cold moon’s shadow and I
embrace and endure enforced, eternal sleep.

John Chmura is a transplanted poet who has put down roots in the pinelands of Whiting, New Jersey.

We want to publish your poetry and short fiction (up to 1,000 words) in the next issue (and subsequent issues) of NJ Indy. Send up to three submissions to Poetry Editor Kayla Harris at poetry@njindy.com, and we’ll consider them on a rolling basis for monthly publication.