The Works of R.T. Castleberry

R.T. Castleberry is the former editor/publisher of Curbside Review, a monthly literary magazine. Castleberry's work has appeared in Green Mountains Review, The Alembic, Pacific Review, RiverSedge, Poet Lore, Margie and Caveat Lector, among other journals. It has also been featured in the anthologies Travois, TimeSlice and The Weight of Addition.  

All Poems © R.T. Castleberry

A Healing Word

In writing now--as catharsis,
I read the blankness of a stare into a mirror
as currents of malice, unease, mockery,
extend the stare as greeting, resentment, defense,
regard the mirror as boast, testament, tether.
I have no truth, no advice.
I refuse the necessity for proofs or polemics.
Vanity reshapes any question into my answer,
a harsh life into lyric poems of holocaust and upheaval.
I follow the compression of a line
to civil war Spain, to the blues,
to the snare of free association.
If I lose the line of curative logic,
in revising, if I forget my point,
I sacrifice sense for image,
image for rhythm,
image and rhythm for neatly coded curse.
I make closure a demand.

An Arrangement Of Necessities

As I deconstruct the fable of the Chinese mare
it becomes a needful, sighing guide
inside the minutes of every myth,
a metaphor for melancholy,
a merging of damaged wire and mathematics.
I write at home
and the war is somewhere else.

I draw no line between my needs
and someone else’s goods.
The dimes I steal are pooled
as red coins for dispensation.
“Give me the $20 suffering,”
I say at Sunday criticism.
Irony is my favorite emotion,
my center as my voice.
I worship at a tree of crows.
I marvel at the stammering
as I view the words of God.

Tomorrow I travel,
see my headlights on the car ahead,
lay my pallet in the dust ruts beside the road.
All is in order here:
the secrets I acknowledge, the children that I don’t
are discarded in the highway weeds.
In a month, a miser’s mood
vacant as a stone thrown to make a river wall,
I watch a line of fires building from the Eastern horizon.
I leave to show I can.

Toward The World
(Where No One Is Waiting)

I open my morning door
to the cooing whir of birds in flight,
the glistening weave of a spider’s web.
Stepping out,
leather soles slide on dew-damp sidewalk,
a cat slips through the clutter of courtyard planters.
Wind-floated leaves hang in the morning haze.
A perfume trail of White Diamonds and wisteria
lingers like the moon.
Beyond the gated line of plank fences, security mesh
the street is a deep mosaic of shaded green,
sun-touched spreads of oak, palm tree, pine,
high, jutting arcs of new town homes.
Oleander and crape myrtle layer the street median.
Early students pass by, pack-laden, intense.
One carries a carving of a yellow-eyed crow,
almost losing it in the stretching leap over a puddle.
Tell me a story, the day seems to say.
Twenty years gone from Miami and Monterrey,
fables have fallen into disfavor.
The past is a dog nosing in the night.
I arch my back to ease it before the drive,
shrug my jacket into place.
I leave with nothing but hours rolling to report.