“Break Time,” “When Dying Deer Appear” and “Crawlspace”

“Break Time,” “When Dying Deer Appear” and “Crawlspace”

“Break Time,” “When Dying Deer Appear” and “Crawlspace”

Break Time

Maybe you’ve lost

your patience

with your country

with a loved one

with yourself.

Maybe you’ve lost

your temper

at your species

at friends at strangers

or especially at yourself.

Maybe you’ve become too tightly wound

too judgmental

don’t have Zen spirit

at least not when it counts.

Maybe you’re constipated

or were raised Catholic

took it seriously … way too seriously

loved it loved it loved it all

until it all

fell like a ton of Baltimore catechisms

from a tower of incense-scented hocus-pocus gibber jabber.

Maybe you’ve been traumatized over seventy years

by all you’ve suffered

& all the suffering you’ve inflicted on others

never thinking

you could or would.

Maybe you should take a breather

— a deep clean cleansing breath

give yourself a break ... before you break

down ... or in half ... or in pieces.

Unwind. Judge not. Do compassion

including self-compassion

especially when compassion appears undoable.

Appearances can be deceiving

— so you’ve been told.

When Dying Deer Appear

Sweltering summer when dying deer

appear as if posed frozen in seedy

weedy gopher-holed drought-ravaged backyard

yet still somehow evoking visions

of beauty & beastly dignity

their wild eyes haunting

they might’ve tensed sensed being

watched by aging baby boomer couple’s

tame eyes squinting

from kitchen window

at ribs poking through taut flesh

like samurai swords under dirty dun-colored linen

bodies transcending art

descending delicately into decay

yet spirits vigilant patient no illusions nor delusions

unlike human couple together appearing

safe secure thriving while conniving

desiring dreams apart.


Rosters of rodents bide their time

scratching screeching

from within crawlspace

in hallway

above & in-between

long-married couple’s wine country bungalow bedrooms.

Rosters of rodents disappear reappear disappear again

for weeks or months or years it seemed.

But rodents reappear this time no doubt

finally having come to stay to live & die

holding hell-raising all-night Irish wakes

& making Olympic-like mad dashes down

afraid-to-leave afraid-to-stay couple’s frayed

closeted clothing hanging like executed prisoners

in separate bedrooms bedrooms separated

by sickly sweet death-scented crawlspace.

About the Author

Robert Eugene Rubino

Robert Eugene Rubino is a retired newspaper copy editor and columnist and a former adult literacy tutor who has published prose and poetry in various online and print journals. He's also the author of three collections, including "Douglas Knocks Out Tyson" (UnCollected Press).

Read more work by Robert Eugene Rubino.