Two Poems by Tony Whedon

Tony Whedon

Tony Whedon

Tony Whedon’s poetry and essays have appeared in Harpers, American Poetry Review, Agni, Antioch Review, Ploughshares, Sewanee Review, Shenandoah, and more than a hundred other magazines. He’s published a book of poems through Midlist Press, a chapbook and a full length poetry collection through Fomite Press, and is the author of A Language Dark Enough: Essays on Exile, from Midlist. He’s a working trombone player.


That Christmas eve
we visited the Boyds
at their house on an oyster shell

road east of Pontchatrain,
and I saw above the crab legs
piled high in the kerosene light

my mother jitterbugging 
with my father, his pockets
jingling with doubloons;

I remember the sign "Boyd's Nest,"
rattling with the palmettos
beyond the mosquito silk

& the unwrapping of gifts 
and spices, and my mother 
whirling her tar‑colored hair

around my father, the Boyds
nervously watching. 
What remains of that evening 

are swatches of glittery Dorsey
and Goodman, the music skipping 
beyond me and twelve‑year old Annette, 

the Boyds' skinny daughter, 
who in quickening darkness
led me to their cruiser tied to 

the bayou dock. Later, we slipped 
back to the candle‑lit porch. 
She slammed the screen door,

and I felt  shaken by what we'd done.  
Jim Boyd was playing cards  
across the room with my father. 

My mother, her forehead glistening 
sweat, sprawled in a butterfly chair,  
and I remember my father half‑

carrying her to our red car. 
Now "Boyd's Nest's" a thatch 
of cheap condos; the bayou's 

thick with oil rigs and Cajun 
clip‑joints. Driving through it
this year, noticing the light's 

little grace notes on the water, 
I recalled that late 'fifties night
that smelled sweet as Jim Boyd's whisky

& my father's cheap cologne:  
we glided through rain  blowing off 
the lake to New Orleans.  My mother 

slept in the crook  of my father's arm, 
and, even then,  I was saddened by 
the meticulous care, with which 

I began to alter these memories.

Out of this World

I sat there awhile, nobody 
but me and my wristwatch 
listening, and as I waited 
for the final chord to descend, 
a moth lit on the rim of my glass, 
its blue wings trembling. 
I wanted harmony, not 
cacophony, I wanted pastels 
over the muddy half-tones 
of a botched twilight;
I played the record 
again and heard Miles 
consider how to re-enter 
the tune, the moment brought 
to a dead stop only to 
begin again. Fuck the short 
form and its abbreviated joys, 
and fuck the spaces 
between the notes that 
define him – the long ash 
of a cigar, diminished, 
the grapes planted years ago 
that refuse to ripen. Almost 
evening in California, a stellar jay 
worries at an empty feeder; 
the sun slips behind 
the hills, and the mountains
darken as night comes on. 
I put the record on again,
and when Miles plays
that phrase I swear I hear 
the moth’s heart 
beating helplessly 
as it falls into my drink 
out of this world.