Thomas C. Dunn

When Symphonies Empty

it's father's rocks at the hornet nest again
and a piñata of furies spilling
into an increasingly absent air
the way they hurl themselves at the wooden roof
and hold their sting like medicine,
the drone building to a coda
that exhausts rather than ends
it's all such a flurry of rage consuming nothing
and a death away from understanding
that we can stare through the rain streaks
of the dirty dormer windows
and still be close enough to feel
that nothing breaks without a wake of victims

in a few days, father will hose out the core
and leave the shell dripping sweet
like a candy skull suspended from a vendor's cart
the day after el Dia de los Muertos
then dry, a child's papier-mâché creation,
symbol of a loss not yet experienced but already named
workers swell with wood and plant fiber, the queen guides the fat
and the nest reforms deep and high in a maple tree,
nature always absorbing man's leaks
it's the action of living, a blaze wilting the marigolds
and through it we forget, forget to scratch at the grave mound,
free the passage of new air to the past and dead
and allow for the skeletal teachings that burst mute from our future


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Thomas C. Dunn is a Los Angeles based writer. His screenwriting work has received worldwide film distribution and festival inclusion (Sitges, Austin, Cairo, Brussels, etc.) As a playwright, he is the winner of Samuel French’s prestigious Short Play Festival, and his work has been published in Samuel French’s OOB Festival Plays, Exceptional Monologues 2, and Collective: 10 Play Anthologyamong others. His plays have been presented in over thirty theaters nationally and internationally and have been featured in numerous festivals.

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