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Four poems by Larry D. Thomas article

 Bait Hand 

(New Iberia, LA)  


He was a mere twenty-one when from nowhere

the squall came up, washed him overboard

from the shrimp boat, and gave him to the Gulf,

taking his right leg with the nasty bite


of a hammerhead.  Ever since, he's sold tackle

and handled bait to eke out his living

from the Gulf that maimed him, learning through time

that he and it are one, wed in a brute,


indifferent violence.  But a hundred yards

from its surf, his travel trailer creaks,

floundering in the bite of salty canines,

decorated with nothing but sharks' teeth


and crucifixes hacked from the skulls of catfish.

In the summer sun, he shifts to his prosthesis

his awful weight, testing his stamina like bait

slamming the side of an unforgiving bucket.





 Lifting Her Voice to God 

(Plaquemines Parrish, Louisiana)


The immaculate pleats of her robe

belie the loose, wrinkled flesh beneath it,

her gloves the artifacts of hands


arthritic from decades of domestic labor.

Eighty if a day, every Sunday morning,

she ascends the steps to the choir loft,


and assumes her place on the makeshift bleachers.

Fixing her bright, bespectacled eyes on the baton,

she waits for its first, sparrow-quick dip,


and, in a single motion, drops her mandible

and belts out a note of flawless tremolo,

a note of such powerful purity


it all but shatters the panes of stained glass

radiant as the raspberry sun which, a century

ago and but a mile from where she sings,


down through the branches of an ancient live oak,

bathed with God’s good grace the pendulous,

soul-freed body of her beloved grandfather.





Dia de los Muertos 

(Mesilla, NM) 


As the sacred

three-day holiday

draws near,


the nights

are clear

and cold.


Through the dust-

filmed windows

of their kitchens,


shafts of moonglow

strike vases

of fresh marigolds


into fire,

sparkling the sugar

of festive skulls.







Fort Sumner Deputy 

(New Mexico) 


His Stetson hogs

the chair beside him,

his head so heavy

with his jowls

it droops like the head

of a vulture.


His midriff protuberant

with links, ribs, and brisket,

he shoves himself back

a few more inches

from the table.

He packs his Camels,


slamming the package

top-down, slides one out,

lights it with his Bic,

and takes a deep drag.

He feels his bloodlust

rising like a fever,


beside itself with craving,

desperate for the roadkill

of a fresh, human wreck,

his fleshy ears twitching,

perked for the welcome

static of a dispatch.






Larry D. Thomas, a member of the Texas Institute of Letters, was the 2008 Texas Poet Laureate.  He has published several award-winning and critically acclaimed collections of poetry, most recently Uncle Ernest (Virtual Artists Collective, Chicago, 2013).  His New and Selected Poems (TCU Press, 2008) was a semi-finalist for the National Book Award.


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