Three Poems

by Troy Varvel



A Prayer for After the Funeral


Before I took communion
the stained glass drank

the pale wine from my
burned out eyes.

The choir swelled to the size
of the chiseled crucifix

that hung above the altar
to remind me of my un-confessed sins,

and for the girl who died
because of them.

No one in my family should
receive the Eucharist.

Back at the house, I sit
beneath my sister’s window

while my father kneels
behind the television.

It blinks
with every tug my father

gives to the wire that births
from the wall. It blinks

every time I exhale
a new cable of smoke.

My mother stands above him
clutching the remote as if praying the rosary.

The screen is swathed
with a baby blue glow.



The Way Buttons Work


My sister casts buttons through
her window—they shadow

like pills into small ponds
of late winter ice.

A soft click, a slow sleight of hand,
she disappears the buttons

from her palm into
the empty yard.

Snow falls through my eyes
powdering the sight of her—

each button a wet glisten,
each one torn, unwanted.

She casts another. I want
to catch it, hold it, to feel

why she no longer wants
to join two sides.




Her First Attempt


She swallows another
each time the damp

leaves brush her window.
It guides

her to visions
of life away

from long
pipedreams and ugly feet.

She stumbles
when the wind stops

and the leaves
hang quiet

like she curls now,
on cold, fresh sheets,

praying still.

TROY VARVEL is an MFA candidate at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. His poetry and fiction have appeared in The Cape Rock: Poetry, Driftwood Press, and That Literary Review, among other literary journals.

Photo: “Ice on Beach” by Howard Ignatius