I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars. — Og Mandino

Denver Butson, American poet, has published three books of poetry — triptych (The Commoner Press, 1999), Mechanical Birds (St. Andrews College Press, 2001) and illegible address (Luquer Street Press, 2004).

His work has been in anthologies edited by Billy Collins, Garrison Keillor, and Agha Shahid Ali, has been regularly featured on NPR’s Writers Almanac, and has earned him a individual artist fellowship from the New York Foundation for the arts.

 

TUESDAY 9:00 AM
Denver Butson

A man standing at the bus stop
reading the newspaper is on fire
Flames are peeking out
from beneath his collar and cuffs
His shoes have begun to melt

The woman next to him
wants to mention it to him
that he is burning
but she is drowning
Water is everywhere
in her mouth and ears
in her eyes
A stream of water runs
steadily from her blouse

Another woman stands at the bus stop
freezing to death
She tries to stand near the man
who is on fire
to try to melt the icicles
that have formed on her eyelashes
and on her nostrils
to stop her teeth long enough
from chattering to say something
to the woman who is drowning
but the woman who is freezing to death
has trouble moving
with blocks of ice on her feet

It takes the three some time
to board the bus
what with the flames
and water and ice
But when they finally climb the stairs
and take their seats
the driver doesn’t even notice
that none of them has paid
because he is tortured
by visions and is wondering
if the man who got off at the last stop
was really being mauled to death
by wild dogs.