dispersing & reflecting light through poetry

Walking Past the Dead

Walked past this old cemetery on my way to the library in 90+ South Carolina heat & humidity. Wrote the poem on the return hike.

Casey Methodist Church Cemetery, Goose Creek, SC

Bones of ancestors
clam-baking under the Carolina sun,
under gray granite headstones

planted in uneven groupings;
moss-covered crypts
laid bare but for the pine needles,

while plastic flowers
wilt fading color.
The bones of ancestors planted

where the cicada sing
and the call of the crow
punctuates the sweat heavy air

under accumulations of clouds.
Arthritic loblolly
point the way.

Yet the grass still grows green
and the honeysuckle smells sweet
and the breeze blows when it will.

Copyright © 2016 Scott Daniel Massey


I think death–physical, spiritual, emotional–colors the first half of my next chapbook, ORANGE.

Terra Cotta Soldiers
“Let the dead bury the dead.” –Jesus of Nazareth

dried clay
brittle broken
cracked and fallen
astonishing detail of
upright individuals in
grand ancient army formation
layered soil and sand of the centuries
standing guard over a dead emperor’s tomb
all ready for war
yet they’re not moving
they’ve already lost

Image & Text Copyright © 2016 Scott Daniel Massey

Help an Artist


Used with permission from the artist, Kevin Rockwell. I hope I did it justice.

Homeless on Homeless Art

Tryin’ to catch some z’s
in the after winter sun
here at the edge of America;
keepin’ it tight,
tryin’ to avoid exposure.
Crumpled up here
like a wadded up napkin
lyin’ on the side of the road,
tossed from a car window
like nobody’s business.
I’ll jus’ stay right here
on the side of the road…
don’t mind me.
Me, I’m keepin’ my head down,
just tryin’ to rest.
it’s a thin line,
lotsa thin lines
don’t nobody want to connect–
it ain’t all black and white.
Just like the brother
sittin’ over there, scribblin’
on his pad of paper…
we’re all sketchy.
Some of us
just more out in the open.

I originally posted this ekphrastic poem as part of the NaPoWriMo challenge in April of this year. The artist, Kevin Rockell, recently contacted me to ask if I would share his needs. You see, he is currently homeless and needing funds to get a place to stay and paint out of the heat. He travels with his trusty and gentle doberman, Tammi.

His forte is pet and animal portraits. He has painted many commissioned works of various furry companions.

Check out his work on facebook: Kevin Rockwell.

Copyright © 2016 Scott Daniel Massey
Images Copyright © Kevin Rockwell

This May Be the Only Way

I have a really difficult time expressing myself–my emotions, my thoughts, my knee-jerk inner reactions.  If I do they don’t exactly come out right. I tend to follow the proverb that says “Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.” [Proverbs 17:28 ESV]

Sometimes poetry allows me to compact those feelings and thoughts into verse; to say them in a way that if you really want to hear, you will.  I guess that way if you don’t understand, but you at least thought it sounded nice, my heart won’t be hurt too bad.

I dedicate the following to my dear brother and old friend, Greg Tomlinson. As we used to say…here, there, or in the air. Ever hopeful.

No One Dies Today

Sittin’ in the town saloon
sippin’ rot gut whiskey and
gnawin’ on stale bisquits
(I’m here more for the show
girls than the fine dining),
contemplatin’ how to keep
my homestead from goin’ under
and my bride of twenty-plus dyin’.

See, the Creek’s dried up.
Most scattered to the four winds
after the incident with the sheriff.
Some folk went to meet their Maker early on,
two widowed school marms
left living on both ends of town,
and I get a telegram
from the deputy ever’ now and then.

So in busts an old friend so hard
them swingin’ doors knocked
the dust off the rafters.
We used to ride the trail together
followin’ the Trail Boss
through desolate places,
searchin’ for them green pastures;
fought side by side in the Great War
behind the General
sendin’ the enemy back to where he’d come.

And he called me out
out of the blue,
ready with a pack mule loaded
with shotguns and scatter guns,
Gatlings and pistols and sabers–
an arsenal set for battle.
(He always was a straight shooter.)
Now I only had my old six shooter
with but only one bullet
and I hadn’t shot in years.
I used to could push heads
through tails of a fake gold
piece at three and sixteen paces,
but my hands are a bit unsteady now
and my eyes ain’t what they used to be.

And when I looked him in the eye
I recognized them;
I knew them
as the same angry ones I stared at
in the mirror every morning
with a straight razor to my throat
contemplatin’ the stubble.

I wanted to raise a toast
with a glass of house red,
praise the Trail Boss, the General,
sing the songs of the cattlemen,
and share a bit of hard tack,
a reminder of our days on the trail;
but I think he’d lost his taste for it
and I couldn’t find my saddlebag.

I felt a lump in my gut and
a tear push through my dry eyes
as he road off to the west,
but all that spilled out was dust
and a fond “See you on the other side,”
a whispered echo
from my dry and thirsty throat.

Copyright © 2016 Scott Daniel Massey

​To the person reading this poem

It’s not you.
But I don’t trust you.

It’s not you.
It’s the cloud of witnesses 
that have gone before you:
the ’70s child of divorce;
the virgin teen prize
of a girlfriend wager/race 
for the trophied ring finger 
and the conceived ramifications;
the infatuated young man
whose string of love interests’
ears were not atuned
to his babble and verse;
the newlywed groom
and a vacuous first marriage
honeymoon bedtime prophecy
“Let’s get this over with”
fulfilled four months later;
the brothers in holy arms 
with unsheathed daggers dripping
fresh blood on local network tv;
the pastor, confidante, & friend
airing confessionals in front of God
and everyone as nasty parables;
the husband & father who failed
to clearly express his thoughts and intents;
the beggar deaf mute
repeat prodigal supplicant
somebody wannabe…

It’s not you,

as I stand here naked
in the shower writing this poem–
scented soap in my right hand,
washcloth in my left;
I’m just not sure I want you to read this.

Copyright © 2016 Scott Daniel Massey

More untitled blah

Like lemon juice
bathing a paper cut:
the tart citrus scent
the sweet focused pain
through the narrowest
of lacerations–
and nothing else matters.


Copyright © 2016 Scott Daniel Massey

Thursday, June 30, 2016, 7:03 a.m. EST

They are not metaphors,
the wrens and cardinals and jays
that flit and fly through my backyard
nesting, feeding, calling out
across the fence line
as the sun crawls too quickly
through the pine,
and the mosquitoes quicken
to the scent of sedentary middle-age blood.
They are living beings
being only what they were created for–
to flit and fly, to nest and feed,
singing out across the fences
as the sun opens over the treeline.

I swat another mosquito,
peer into my empty cup of coffee,
and peel myself from the patio chair
to go shower for work.

Copyright © 2016 Scott Daniel Massey

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