Poetry by R.T. Castleberry


In the turn from wide to narrow streets
seams in the street shudder my tires,
loosed leaves flutter through the fog.
Police on patrol secure the corner
the five-columned church commands.
Blocked by brush-wide blurs of contrails,
the sun settles behind the storm.

There’s a death in my house,
a dearth of charity,
a chastened child unwrapping his remorse.
Witnesses see a copy of Lee’s Lieutenants
and nine shell casings littering the floor.
I take a bitter way through the morning news,
the rain-burst from a sudden sky.
A mourning coat drapes my shoulders.

Never equal, rooted in disregard
I spent a childhood on the charity rolls,
languish now under levies of job loss or low money.
Curbside beers, meals of tramp stew,
collapse a minister’s graven idol imagery,
diminish metaphor and the morning.
Rancor falls, random as a star.
I have no sense of the way home.



I stayed late in the street tonight,
felt the breeze chill come up,
saw the ice sky form, fog-dense.
Shirt tail out, I rock back in my boots,
scan the silhouette corners for
bar room stagger, a skater’s weave.
From a rooftop nest,
long minutes of a heron’s call
are quieted as a diesel Mercedes,
a Fat Boy Harley chop the air.
A rescue siren shivers a seam, miles away.
A fence-framed angle of refracted light
draws me down the sidewalk.
Beside a neighbor’s corner garden
I watch a cat’s claw hunting leap,
the stories-high wash of
wind rippling a palm leaf canopy.
My boot tips skip a beer can,
heels scuff as they
move over grass to crumbling curb.
Hands in my pockets, shoulders up,
I’m staying in the street tonight.



As suspicious of the morning
as I’m thankful for the night,
I confess I no longer follow bird flight,
the sinking of the violated sun.
Mouthing a dialect
of short checks and charity wards,
I stare at a wasting life,
unhappy, aging, unhealthy.
Sympathies have been trained out of me.
The elegance in a sniper’s logic is what remains.


Never go home. They hate you there–
the life you have, the one they own.
There will be no grace, no praise
in their greetings, the family insults
extended at the door.
No friend would serve to
a cracked cup, a chipped plate.
Go and settle only where you’re loved.


The contrarian stance is the reflexive line,
a link I scan with a brutal eye.
Reading for Thursday’s lesson
I replace the King James with a New International,
Proverbs with Revelations.
A stone, savage as prophecy,
lies across pages marked for service.
The weight is right. It fits the burden.
It shapes the day for will, for warring purpose.


About R.T. Castleberry

A former Ray’s Road Review contributor, R.T. Castleberry has had work appear in Comstock Review, Green Mountains Review, Santa Fe Literary Review, The Alembic, Pacific Review, RiverSedge, and Caveat Lector, among other journals. He is a co-founder of the Flying Dutchman Writers Troupe, co-editor/publisher of the poetry magazine Curbside Review, an assistant editor for Lily Poetry Review and Ardent. His work has been featured in the anthologies Travois-An Anthology of Texas Poetry, TimeSlice, and The Weight of Addition. His chapbook, Arriving At The Riverside, was published by Finishing Line Press in January, 2010. An e-book, Dialogue and Appetite, was published by Right Hand Pointing in May, 2011.