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Scott Weaver


Concrete (adj., n., v.)


Stone Speak

Danse Macabre

Imagine a Cave

Veith as Colossus

Concrete (adj., n., v.)

From Latin, from logic,
from Roman emperors in love with their own permanence—
the actual thing, its actual instance,
real, of substance.

From the verb Concrescere—intransitive,
a cancer spreading across a sentence:
“to grow together,” “to coalesce.”

The Romans poured it underwater in Caesarea,
formed separate concrete cells
in the harbor, hive-like,
and still it set.
They poured it in the sky,
offering the Pantheon’s dome
to the sun. The land stretched out
as if on a sickbed, and they spread

aqueducts and ramparts,
friezes telling the old stories
of broken barbarians to now benign masses,
conquest set in every surface.

From Middle English, from defeat,
from disease and misdiagnosis, from empire, death, and myth,
a late-fourteenth-century logician’s term—Concretus

opposite of abstraction: Daughter, Wife, Breath,
Guilt, Hope, Grief,
                              hidden in dense sentences,

marker of what you can touch:
woman, bed, colon, eyelids (closed),
crypt, memory, grief.

From Latin, Italian, from Early French
to Middle English to each of our mouths,
it comes as the stuff of foundation, completion,
of exactness, the enemy of avoidance,
                              stuff of particulars:
                              gravel and sand, water, mixed, set
                              in forms, literally “grown together,”
                              real, substantial, irreversible.

You pour it by day, when you return the next
it is changed, as are you.

You are young, in love with your permanence.

All summer it grows, row upon row,
this mausoleum. Open crypts
stare out at you like the hundred lenses
of a fly’s compound eye, asking
what now?
and you know.

When you’re finished, you pretend not to notice
what it’s become—hardened place, poured from below the ground,
from its foundations it still reaches for the sun.
One hundred and forty-four crypts, some already sold,
it stretches across this hill’s crest, wide and dense
as your shoulders, topped with marble.

Stout little house, empty then, you created a place of memory
that will not leave, this place of solid, conquering concrete,
and one day years later—just like that—in front of this mass
you stepped out of yourself in your clean funeral clothes
and looked back, as if to listen to your younger self say,
This is the place I told you to expect.

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Behind me Carlos is singing
Remember your grave while you are young,
and though I can’t see him I hear

the draw of his screed across a new crypt’s floor
under his laughing and song. I’m on my knees
leveling small mounds of wet concrete
so Carlos can more artfully bring them into being

and I imagine him as Dante’s Charon, furnace eyes,
wheels of fire from last night’s drinking,
his two-day beard grey and rough to no one’s touch.

Instead of Acheron’s water stiffening the oar,
a quarter-inch of concrete gathers
on the edge of his screed, growing,
coming closer to Carlos grinning.

Not in our hammers' swish-smack, not in protest cries
of plywood, not in Carlos’s laughter or songs:
that summer death refused form. It wasn’t the wind, the fire,

the mausoleum that would not stop growing.
Death’s still small voice bloomed in the silence
following Carlos. It crept into the broken grin
across Gravedigger Dave’s face after he caught us

walking from our cars first thing and whispered
I love the smell of dead bodies in the morning,
then dragged deep from a cigarette buried in his beard.

I disappeared behind a small mountain of fresh earth
displaced the day before by Dave’s Kabota,
filled my lungs despite myself, searching for that faint
formaldehyde-like stream that ran through the cemetery air

like a pond spring. And there it was, so small
it winnowed its way through us each day,
so familiar, so still, we never stopped to notice.

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Stone Speak

                             “At this the widower himself, infant with grief,
                               Commanded that this stone speak.”
                                                          - Inscription on Ann Donne’s tomb, written by her husband, John.

You come out
prostrate, ass-first,
a breach birth

from the horizontal
concrete hole
you poured a day before.

A thick black cord
snakes from the mouth,

attached to the chisel gun
that fires its metal head
out and back,

out and back,
tiny piston thrusting
in each crypt

wasted concrete off
the corner of walls

and floors,
smoothing its bottom joints

the set of rollers
used to ease
the casket’s insertion.

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Danse Macabre


A true confession: we created him by accident
the time I gunned my coffin-glossed Buick into
the heart of midday Highway 40 traffic, and Veith,
trapped in the passenger seat, palmed the fuzzy top
of the interior and yelped: Certain Death!

Of course I managed to miss each of the missile-like cars
heat-seeking us with my own beautiful vehicular proficiency,
the kind exclusive to the Late-Teenage Homo Sapien
with the blessed mortality-blindness of idiocy. Still,
it was too late. The thing was named, and thus it was.

The same way Yahweh was said to create the heavens,
the earth, the things that creep upon it and us:
badgers and bacteria, murders of crows and chloroform.
And then there are the things he didn’t necessarily plan:
rubber ducks and neck tattoos, machines created

to simulate our ends, carnival rides with rusty bolts,
mis-measured bungee ropes, all of these after Eden’s first act
of teenage rebellion gave us death for real and the need
to make mythology from bodes now meant to quit—
so too was Certain Death born of our What-The-Hell breath.

You know the story, you’re in on the joke—no need to laugh,
to humor us, though if you’d spent that summer helping
construct the town’s new mausoleum, you too
would’ve laughed the way we did, chasing blusters of mirth
through days spent trying to forget the thing that we were building.

It was good summer work between spring and fall semesters,
a chance for us to run our hands across the hood
of our own mortality, to take it off the lot,
return it with a grin and the decision to keep looking,
our last chance to haggle with the world, free to walk away.

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Imagine a Cave

Rain today,
the concrete truck won’t come
churning its inverted belly
against the tips of the oaks. Thank God
for the drops that drum on the tool shed
where Veith and I keep dry smoking cigarettes,
glad for a half-day of rest. His Bic
momentarily births two shadows
on the metal behind us

but we’re not quick enough to see them
hunched together and shaking.
Here’s our secret—we’re afraid
to look at what we know exists,
the rough crypts we lie in face up,
chipping away concrete stalactites
from yesterday’s shitty pours.
They explode into constellations
with each bunny-swig of our hammers,
pieces scatter and dance
on top of our plastic glasses.

If you build it, they will come, wise-ass grins
each morning, eyes safe behind
scratched panes of plastic, the dumb knock
of hard hats against crypt’s edge.
What about these bare stretched shadows
behind us now, as eternal as a single breath?
Why not turn and look at the holes of light
our bodies create, grotesque and dancing free
next to Carlos who's appeared in the entrance
open to the daylight, cursing us
for smoking among the tools,
shaking drops from this torn slicker,
sending us home?

Tomorrow we’ll return to crushed butts
under rubber boots. When the truck comes
we will blink off a million tiny eruptions
of sun from its chrome pipes
peaking over the hill, or we will
turn our backs on them
until our eyes adjust and we understand
there’ll be no rest today, just this mausoleum,
its crypts growing underneath us
almost with their own life, lifting us
closer and closer to the sun.

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Veith as Colossus

After he gathers
his legs under him,

he draws in the breath
we all hold, our envy

badly hidden
behind stone faces,

secretly glad
it’s not us

with this power.
When he pistons back,

the iron plate
forming the entry

to the crypt
comes with him

and only then
can we breathe,

our mouths wide
in wonder, empty

as the newest tomb.

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Scott Weaver lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife Kelli Ford and their dog Sylvia. He is working on his first book, Danse Macabre. His poems have appeared in RattleThe New York QuarterlyDIAGRAM, and are forthcoming in Union Station Magazine and Scintilla Review. You can find him at and on Twitter at @scottweaver.

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