William Ogden Haynes

William Ogden Haynes is a poet and author of short fiction from Alabama who was born in Michigan. He has published nine collections of poetry (Points of Interest, Uncommon Pursuits, Remnants, Stories in Stained Glass, Carvings, Going South, Contemplations, Time on My Hands and The Works) and one book of short stories (Youthful Indiscretions) all available on Amazon.com.  Over 200 of his poems and short stories have appeared in literary journals and his work is frequently anthologized. http://www.williamogdenhaynes.com

Elephant in the Graveyard

She never had much use for her father and would only 
visit him on rare occasions. He was an alcoholic who 
kept to himself and had little to do with his daughter or 
anyone else. The last time she saw him, she knew he was 

on the way out. He had the pale-yellow complexion of a 
person with a failing liver. But he hung on, the one 
remaining brown leaf in the Fall, dangling from an 
otherwise bare branch. The end was sudden and inconvenient, 

like the breaking of a shoelace at the worst possible time. 
She was snowed-under at work and the pandemic made 
life in general, more difficult. At the graveside service, a 
sparse group of mourners were gathered in heavy coats 

with collars turned up against the frigid wind. Her father 
had no friends and the few people there came only 
because of his daughter. There was a bruise of clouds 
that day and the wind nudged the edges of the funeral 

home canopy over the grave. The mourners shared 
firm handshakes and hugs with her, with no mention of 
her father. They gazed deep into her eyes to let her know 
they appreciated the bittersweet nature of the occasion. 

The funeral director finally arrived with a minister in tow. 
She would probably have to pay him extra to say nice 
things about someone he had never met. But the preacher 
stuck to the scriptures, had nothing to say about her father 

as a person, instead focusing on the promise of eternal life. 
Eternal life for her father was fine, as long as she wasn’t 
a part of it. Eternal life would also have been attractive 
to her father, as long as it included Jack Daniels.

I Remember

I remember how on awakening,
she would divulge her greenblue 
eyes, like sapphires cut brilliant 
as a promise. I remember the way 
she said good morning from the pillow,
yawned slow and drawn out as a whole note.  

I remember how she looked, her dress 
gossamer thin, the bloom of her skirt 
in the wind. And I remember how she 
walked, her tanblack stilettos stabbing 
the gravel, pony tail bobbing like a 
pendulum with every step.

I remember the strange feeling of 
being in love, alien to me as stardust. 

I remember the night I listened as she 
quietly took her suitcase from the closet, 
stole down the stairs and softly shut the 
screen door never to be heard from again. 

I remember, after that, I often referred
to her as uncaring, but then, that would 
have been far too romantic a term.

French Quarter

That morning, the low-slung sun was just beginning 
to rise in the east, chasing the darkness from city 
doorways. A poet sits on a wrought iron balcony 

on the second floor of a local hotel watching the 
sun creep down Bourbon Street. Only an hour before, 
the sanitation trucks power-sprayed thousands of

gallons of chlorinated water on the street and 
sidewalks, washing away the previous night of 
revelry, urine and beer. The power-washing pushes

cups, beer cans, beads and lost clothing into piles 
awaiting the street sweepers that pick-up debris 
and give the street an extra brushing. Pigeons dive 

in front of the street sweepers in perfectly timed 
sorties to gather popcorn and french fries before 
they are vacuumed up. The poet takes a sip of his 

coffee and unzips a browned banana, hoping that 
today will be productive. Lately, he has seen too 
many nascent poems suffocate on the page, suffering 

erasures and cross-outs, the offending paper ripped 
from the tablet, crumpled and thrown across the room. 
He scans a list of poem starters from the internet for 

a new idea, but that usually results in disappointment, 
like trying to retrieve a sliver of the future from a fortune 
cookie. And then, looking down from the balcony at

the police rousting a sleeping drunk, he realizes that 
all the inspiration he needs is in the people, sounds, 
smells and textures of that wet New Orleans street.

2 thoughts on “William Ogden Haynes

  1. There is nothing like a Bill Ogden poem, especially when a trio of them show up wrapped in laughter, melancholy and visual imagery. Thanks, my friend!


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