Elvis Alves reflects on darker aspects of human nature in this ekphrastic (based on a piece of visual art) poem.
Men Drinking, Boys Tormenting, Dogs Barking
(after the painting by Bill Traylor)
That red line outlines where we can go. Stay where you are,
boy, or else… Pain. Death.
We do not believe in heaven because we are living in hell. Old
folks say that dogs bark after spirits. Barking dogs see what we
know, that the dead is not dead but haunt these parts like crime
committed in the dark. One boy told me that he did it just because
he could. The rest is not history but something absent from a book,
a tale told in the tormenting that is the now.
Reprieve comes in the warmth of a woman’s touch but even that is
fleeting, like the liquor we drink and the days we dream would come
but never do.
Editor’s Note: Elvis Alves has published a variety of work on The Good Men Project. Read some of it here.
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Photo by Philadelphia Museum of Art /Flickr