Slow Lone Burn

by Wm. Anthony Connolly


He leaves


            The scent of Cameroon wrappers grown in the shade, the sound of Leaves Of Grass, Love Among The Ruins, read to him while rolling cigars in the thighs of a virgin for Ernest Fuente’s in the Dominican Republic; or for Angel Olivia, Sr, in Brazil, a season of rain; Ybor City just after the Havanas were snuffed out.


                                                Roll, move, leaves, light:


            Still there, years later even in Connecticut, where the winters are cold, the amber of his choices burning brighter, finite. Never stay in one place long enough, to record a voice muddied with dialect, register a face in the familiar parade of features, instead listen to the different tongues speak poetry, tell lies or give advice while nodding over coffee. Luggage heavy with memories, but easy to shoulder. Rust colored, leathered, but unexpectedly manicured hands press fat cigars into his breast pocket, a hushed monosyllabic word; a humidor door shuts, rotating ceiling fan. Hands, on his lap, numb, repose with regret. That lone bulb dangling.


                                                            Roll, move, leaves, light:                   


            First hesitant steps away. Ash dust on the top of his boots. Roll fifty coronas before crossing the border in the Nicaraguan dawn; the bus depot, smelling of urine, in Rock Springs, Montana near the glowing gold mine, a black man disappears behind the veil of a Montecristo, a Zino and confesses political murder; a hoarfrost-cold Vancouver, B.C. morning behind a forgotten dilapidated hotel, without currency, but rich within the aroma of his constant companions: El Rico Habana; Davidoff; Primo Del Rey, forms in the smoky shadows; oh, the stories they weave. Not, Stand up straight, Keep your head about you, Get outta town, swirling around crowding plans, hopes and routes, but no, the haste choices made, faint spice smoke obscures memory, flavors recollection, his face covered by a numbing curtain of sorrow, fumes a landmine map to weary eyes, of the ever mutable road beyond, the path littered with broken,

spent, wooden matches; ashtray conversations with old, disappearing friends and family.


                                                                        Roll, move, leaves, light:


            His fire, his resolution for a home, a place for his body, a grave, as tenuous as slag in a slight breeze. This sojourn endures, wrapping itself in shade, in the rough edges of mystery, an orange mesmerizing filament in the abyss, where the only constant is gone, the only future burning away in rapturous moments suffuse with a million gracious images of her and him, them and they, in his ruinous hands, unexpectedly smelling of Cameroon wrappers, of poetry, this slow lone burn.


                                                                                    Leaves, light:


            Fingertips yet unsinged, fumble for a light in the heavy dark of his inertia, this imposed gravity. Inhale, move, roll.

            Wrapped around both a sentence and a phantom is a desire.

            Burn ember, burn. Finds himself near Unity, skulking in a thicket of rust and alibis.

            Ash on his teeth.



Wm. Anthony Connolly is the author of three novels The Jenny Muck, Get Back and The Obituaries, which was a Canadian bestseller in 2005. His work has appeared in The Rumpus, Intellectual Refuge and Elephant Journal to name a few. He is on the faculty of the MFA in Writing at Lindenwood University. He is a contributing editor with Talking Writing. He earned a PhD in English and Creative Writing from the University of Missouri and also holds an MFA in Writing from Goddard College. He lives in the Midwest with his wife Dyan and their two dogs, Hemingway Short Story and Professor Leo Tolstoy


February 2018

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