Tohm Bakelas

all you ever needed


Halfway through November, morning dew 

froze. Fog floated over Indian Lake like 

wayward ghosts returning home. Around 

noon, the sun thawed the earth. Fallen 

leaves, now wet, glistened like night-stars. 


Upon closer look, you noticed small beads 

of water reflecting white clouds and blue 

sky. You saw your face aged and aging. 

You saw your tired eyes still tired. And you 

watched daylight burn and birth the night.


When total darkness hit, you drove your car, 

first west, then east, toward the dark parts of 

town. Some hours later you returned home. 

Crickets welcomed you, but you felt lost, 

as if the highway was still calling your name.


Inside your home you paced hard wood floors. 

Distracted by the quiet, preoccupied by the cold. 

But then, by some miracle, she arrived, the woman 

you love, with her warm smile and open arms. 

And you forgot about the highway and crickets. 


You forgot about the quiet and the cold. None 

of it mattered. Because you were together, alive 

in this room. With each other. With laughter 

and whispered words. And that’s all you needed. 

That’s all you ever needed.





autumn is dead


Outside flicking burning matches 

onto silent streets, the dying smoke 

rises skyward toward vacant dusk, 

the starless sky. Keeping company 

with the dead is easy, having said 

what they’ve already said, they 

never talk back, they just listen.

When words are forced and used 

for the sake of using, all meaning 

is forever lost and becomes useless. 

Circumstantial ramblings such as 

these provide a fogged window into 

a mind plagued by terror, sorrow, 

and a complicated but happy life. 

Walking along these streets there 

is a quiet that only exists on the 

cold concrete of hometowns, or 

so you convince yourself because

it’s easier to believe you have 

something special when you refuse 

the possibilities of anything better. 

The lone streetlight, struggling to 

come alive, flickers on and off.

And like a wounded season that 

had no chance—autumn is dead.




the edge of the cemetery


You drive down a desolate county road, 

past the abandoned train station where 

they filmed that movie you watched all 

summer long, past lake communities and 

empty buildings, past all-night diners and 

hotels with vacancies. 


Before going home, you park the car behind 

the cemetery, get out, and walk past graves 

with unknown names, past funeral flowers,

past memories you’d rather not remember.


You see an old man sitting alone on a rock 

near the river, watching the leaves fall from 

trees into water. He is dressed like a junkyard 

monk, wearing a beggar’s hat, a red flannel, 

and brown slacks. You suppose the old man 

could be your grandfather or your uncle. 

And you even consider the possibility 

that perhaps, in thirty years, 

he could be you.


From the edge of the cemetery, 

you contemplate the fallen leaves, 

how each one is a life you’ve forgotten, 

how each one once had a name. 


And despite the separation between

you and the old man, you are both 

together, sharing this moment,

watching the river flow, 

watching leaves float,

watching life go by.




BIO: Tohm Bakelas is a social worker in a psychiatric hospital. He was born in New Jersey, resides there, and will die there. His poems have been printed widely in journals, zines, and online publications all over the world.  He is the author of twenty-five chapbooks and several collections of poetry, including Cleaning the Gutters of Hell (Zeitgeist Press, 2023).  He is the editor of Between Shadows Press.

1 comment:

  1. I saw Thom read in Albany. He is a good one.


The views and opinions expressed throughout belong to the individual artists and may or may not coincide with those of the other artists (or editors) represented within the magazine. Hobo Camp Review supports a free-for-all atmosphere of artistic expression, so enjoy the poetry, fiction, opinions, and artwork within, read with an open mind, and comment wisely. Thanks for stopping by the Camp!