Devil in the Holy Land
The cafés have a kind
of tea that is just
the temperature and taste
of air breathed in summer
through one thin wrap
of muslin in the shade
of a stone wall protecting
the body from a sudden
flash of rain. He sips
it idly each predawn
until the dim gives
out and there is all
around only the abne-
gating hum of day.
Devil Down in a Hole
The dust like hanging coal smoke,
he takes a string of deep breaths in
and holds them so all the chatter
in the daylight slurs with how his insides
blare. He pushes his hands into the flat
drop of the mud wall for the blazing
star shapes they leave because
there’s nothing else for him there yet.
It brings to mind those first-winter homes
of Wisconsin immigrants, burrowed down
against the cold, bowing roofs of burlap tarp.
How the neighbors sometimes had to
hack the bodies of those who froze
just to get them up into a proper grave.
Charlie Clark’s work has appeared in Bat City Review, The New Orleans Review, Pleiades, Smartish Pace, Threepenny Review, West Branch, and other journals. He has studied poetry at the University of Maryland and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. He lives in Austin, Texas.