Mark Danowsky

In Lassitude

And then you’re banging your knee
against the hardwood desk 
tapping your fingers off beat 
the way parishioners clap out of time 
in some churches—just watching
this tempo picks up and you 
use your knuckles and elbows on the knickknacks
scattered around you—still keeping 
a close eye on the cream lightened coffee 
cooling down all at once as it displaces 
in the manner you fold linen—bringing the corners
together and yet introverting
as only a thing that is not solid can—breaking 
to lift the yellow mug and sip
then placing it back on the desk to discover
movements no longer shift its meniscus 
and your part in this now anomaly is called 
into question.

Brian Beatty

Meditation in the Key of Dust

Those stones along your passway
sing and shout when kicked.

You walk on — in slower circles.

Every direction in this lost town
is another crossroads leading back.

Michael Ceraolo

Preamble of the Constitution of the Knights of Labor:  Twenty-First Century Edition

"The recent alarming development
and aggression of aggregated wealth . . .
render it imperative . . .
that a check should be placed upon its power
and upon unjust accumulation,
a system adopted which will secure
to the laborer the fruits of his toil;
as this much-desired object
can only be accomplished
by a thorough unification of labor . . .
we submit to the world the object sought
to be accomplished by our organization,
upon all who believe in securing
'the greatest good to the greatest number'
to aid and assist us . . ."

Erren Geraud Kelly


Who is the light
From a singer’s
Who is the feel of
Loose diamonds
In my hands
Who is beauty
If it could be defined
She is a balloon
Let go

Holly Woodward


Hawk in the rain
undersides of leaves
the spider waiting
wind crossing a sea

Rock split by ice
fox tracks through mud
lichen on granite
owl gliding at dusk

Tetman Callis

The Tiny Toy Train

The passenger train, streamlined and diesel-electric, is stopped at the station. Passengers get off and on. They are quite tiny. From this distance, they can’t be more than two, maybe three, millimeters tall.

It looks like a southbound train but it’s not. There are no such trains out of this station, it’s just pointed that way. If there were such trains I would ride them, every weekend or maybe once a month, back and forth to see my friends and family southbound of here.

As it is, I do nothing.

Tiring of this, I tap a fingernail on my front teeth. I don’t recognize the tune.

I sit in my office chair and look out my office window at the non-southbound train with its tiny passengers stepping down, stepping up. Street bridges arch over the tracks to one side (the south side) of the station; tiny cars drive over in groups determined by cycling traffic signals at cross-streets at the feet of the bridges. Pedestrians can be seen. They are quite small and some of them are jaywalking.

Beyond the tracks and bridges, beyond the train and cars and buildings and infinitesimal people, small red-and-silver water-bombers take off from a tiny airport to fight forest fires in the little blue mountains southbound of here.

To the north, I have no view. Or rather, the view is of the wall of my office, littered with framed certificates attesting to my accomplishments and worth.

Looking at it this way—not at the wall, but out the window—the train will run right for a little ways, then turn left. When all is well, it will follow its curving tracks eastbound, skirting the little blue mountains. In three days, it may reach the ocean.

I look out the window at the bridges and streets and buildings, the tiny toy train and cars, the minuscule people. I had such a town when I was a child. It didn’t have trains or cars, pedestrians or passengers, or cycling traffic signals, but it had tiny toy soldiers and warplanes, the war having just been won.

The tiny toy train is about to leave the station. I see that the passengers are all aboard. They appear all to be civilians, though from this distance, it’s hard to tell.

I see that the water bombers have strayed off course, have turned north, are heading my way and exploding in the sky.

In a moment, the train begins to move. Water-bomber pieces, looking like smoldering confetti, rain down on the tracks.

Dylan Brie Ducey

European returns home for Christmas

you’re back
from Paris
with a menu
from La Closerie des Lilas
matches from La Coupole
demitasses fabriqués au Japon
and one gift for me
an enormous black Moorocan shawl
you say the women in Paris
are wearing these
with miniskirts

as always
you are elegant and tasteful
and I am unable to articulate
my doubts

Nicholas Alexander

After rain

After the rain: the gnawing of crickets,
sun-scorched leaves.

A bird harrowing far away inside
the drier hemisphere of your mind.

Earth wet with the after rain 
dankness of blessing

Snails sliming slowly through the thick
forest of this cerebral haven;

their silvery trail said to hold healing within.

You watch it grow like shrub
in the fertile ground of your heart-

days well spent, shivering in the dew
and drop of Golden Hill's schizophrenia-

the glitter of this bipolarity
lighting dark days.

Kevin O'Cuinn

Post finger-quotes 

After Dave’s Top Ten Most Annoying Things That 
People Do With Their Fingers, you got a semi-colon 
tattooed on one palm and an umlaut on the other (your 
sister asked if it was a dieresis; your lover
where the third dot was).

Cheek-puffing was my thing

The commute was shuffling madness –
head-shaking, eye-rolling & watch-checking;
some people did all three in sync (I tried
but couldn’t get it down).


The line for coffee resembled ∞.

I couldn’t but dwell,
and glory in the shuffle.

Wake-up call

With me in bed,
a mammoth and a fly
(one in ice, the other in amber).

I wonder when they
stopped being metaphors
and squeeze for space

Simon Perchik


You can forecast the rain, this Frisbee
overhead though one hand
is always weaker, holds on

the way your belly makes room
for flames, for lower and lower turns
that help you see in the dark

while the Night Star leads the others down
to drink in safety --a great herd
all night thinning out the air

higher and higher, higher and wider
and because the darkness is still water
you can't hear the sun closing in

crack open the smallest stones
for their light weaker by the hour
--it's a now-or-never toss

--you ask too much! it's not some ship
from space --it's a game for beginners
--you grip the Frisbee and the Earth

still can't keep its balance
is coming toward you as shadow
half way up, tightening around

your waist, closer and closer
around the fire inside
you were saving for feathers and later.


It's time! the ache side to side
and across your forehead
the wrinkles split open

--the cramp comes into this world
as the tightening grip
that has your eyes, your cry

takes you by the hand
the way its shadow falls
exhausted, in pain and now

two mouths to feed though one
is still invisible and you
are never strong enough

to lift it, to bathe it
as if it needed lullabies
would grow into your arms

held up to be carried
one next to the other
--what you hear in the ground

is the cry birds have, made crazy
from watching the sky forever
hold down the Earth though this rake

leaves nothing intact, its handle
half unnoticed, half
from behind, holding on, held

by the still damp dirt
floated out for more room
that enters from somewhere

and everything around you
backwards and forwards, covered over
with eggshells and emptiness.


They have no second thoughts
and still your footprints
inch by inch, gradually

made whole the way this shovel
lost its taste for dirt
carries in only snowfall

leaves its own reason at home
for a room that stays
close by, becomes those skies

one by one, done for, dives
on every path night first
--you dig for worms

as if one would tell you
or show you, or move your hand
or with the light off

a kamikaze cry for light
--you have no return
and step by step no morning.


Its plume half green
half the way each leaf
lowers its head to drink

while this shaky window
keeps cool in the cellar
--for weeks its glass

rising, finally breaks through
though there's no waterfall
no raging flood or downstream

only cold air as if the dead
can be lulled to these shelves
sweetened by soaps, by boxes

and jars and cans
and nothing floats anymore
except what's hollow

once had water inside
where this underworld
whose steps are wood

rises leaf by leaf
from the sea
every wave is looking for

and though these pipes
were thrown about
between the docks and hulls

nothing's changed
--it's cold and you forgot
who you came down running for.


It's hopeless! every nail
exhausted, falls over
as if the treeline

--there's not enough air
though the hammer, half
relentless, half turning back

the way all rescue begins
just below the horizon
for leverage --Casey

the nail you lift up
can be used again
--a second try to hold together

the same sky, familiar now
--there's hope --darkness
is what you're learning

for when a warm breeze
bends down to cup your hands
around the evening star

you will soon wait for
till all that's left to breathe
is a love song, one after another

--you pull out this nail
as if it were a flower
maybe tomorrow, would become

your voice, already scented
and in your arms
a beautiful woman is listening.

David Wheeler


in a morning you might
want more love than you get
so you might give
more love than you have
while the economics
add a bit of tax
so that the market doesn't crash
but you have
and roll back to bed
to sleep off the solitude
a brief reprieve
until you can escape the parentheses
or simply the sheets

To never sing again

we’ll say goodbye
to end the night—
an exhausted swelter
all satisfied
          and spent,
down to creaky voice
          and endorphins.

Dylan Brie Ducey

San Carlos

at a party
I danced
three times in succession
with Andrzej Celinski, a Polish senator
under the dim lights
in his solemn grey suit
he looked at me in astonishment
with no trace of lechery
later I saw his picture in Nowy Dziennik
this was his first trip to the U.S.
and the first time he had danced
in ten years

John Szabo

My Bobble Head Dashboard Deity

In the hours before dawn, on a desolate Mojave Desert highway, I ask my bobble head dashboard Buddha deity, his once bright colors faded, nose melted by furnace-like desert heat, his bloated, smiling head bobbling like an old man with a neurological condition, whose God is the right God?

He bobbles amiably, as he so often does when asked the unanswerable, gyrating his distended belly.

Been with me for 30 years since I Crazy Glued him to the shiny, oiled, fake leather dashboard of my 1975 Dodge Dart; now a car show classic.

Just like Mother Theresa, near the end of her life, I am not sure what I absolutely believe and don’t believe but they can’t all be right so does that make most of them wrong?

Is the humble aborigine, never brain washed, never immersed, in the teachings of a God any less saved?

“Who would Jesus bomb?” asks the bumper sticker. “My dog is my co-pilot,” reads another.

A freeway billboard says: “Imagine there’s no heaven…no hell below us, above us only sky...imagine all the people, living for today.”

Is your beloved only child doomed when, after his youthful years of religious indoctrination, admits he is not a believer?

Is the science of evolution nothing more than a sleigh of hand card trick?

Is the child raised in Japan to follow shinshūkyō Happy Science; worshipping a God known as El Cantare, or the world’s 1.1 billion devout atheists or agnostics any less deserving of a life ever-lasting?

Dawn approaching, awakening from a lone highway trance, not remembering the last 20 minutes of cactus, billboards and occasional freight truck, I listen to a man preaching to anyone lonely and desperate enough to listen.

I picture his sweaty corpulent face, his fat, pink, veiny hands, demanding more to fuel his personal empire of dust.

Nicole Taylor

Weakening Clouds

We leave computers to concrete to
wood bar and brew in glass canning jar,

I leave with my friend Dave who
is talking of the weather and says "These 
gray clouds looks so anemic."

I joke that they need a blood transfusion,
these weak middle aged graying clouds.

He tells me warmer summer weather may 
return Saturday.

Kevin O Cuinn

It may have been June
time itfuckingself
calmed to null & sans.
Every syllable
fifteen rounds
with Hagler

Sister Concepta
liked steak,
Shiraz, the smell of horse;
and Argentina’s stubbled gauchos.

Lee Sittler

Enter SONYA.           
            Mark each occasion with the theme blasé.
            Circle all the words that really mean blasé.
            Skin a touch of buttermilk white and dinner crème-blasé.
            A woman, for every man, makes an idle dream blasé.
            A woman, in portions, pulls away; tries for her sake not to seem blasé.
            I’m a chemical tainting the mental stream blasé.
            I’m an old friend watching the painter treat the theme blasé.
            Enter three Customers who sit at an open table.

            My concept of working as a team: blasé.
            The corrupt presentation of food can make it seem blasé.
            Disgruntled Customer, you mistook me for a woman of extreme blasé.

Enter BRANDON and BILL, side by side, cooking meats.
Brandon.         There’s love in a spatula, Bill; we’re here to create
                        something beautiful:

                                    1. I noticed a man
                                        In absent lull near the door.
                                        Then he noticed me.

                                    2. Revolving like sand,
                                        He began lulling slower,
                                        A smile like debris.

                                    3. I wrote this haiku
                                        I don’t think you understand;
                                        Now you notice me.

                        Let a grey day that wishes to stroke
with a different palette feel free to do so.
I’m the figure in its watercolor;
                        I only wait to be escorted into each day’s memoirs.

He takes a sip from his plastic cup of water.

 Enter JULIE and TATTOO ARTIST.  She sits in his chair, and he begins to tattoo her shoulder.
Julie.    Hard in a skepticism of this world’s magnitude
            to admit that you believe in God,
            or at least in a man you can’t see,
            touch, or talk to, but who
            has an ultimate authority over you,
            who tells you when to sleep,
            winds your days, peels your destiny off
            like an orange rind. 
            Hard to explain why you’d give
            anything to never see him
            but to know that he’s there
            waiting for you to rock your own life’s crib
            from its pocket of wet sand. 
The scene fades with the buzz of the Artist’s needle.


            My hands shuffle plastic

            red cups and white plates
            only a fork nearly drops on
            my way to the dish party.

            I grab the two dollars,
            tell the busser how
            one couple’s use of unwrapped
straws, their joints stuck,
forms the topography
of booth four’s littered palms.

            I blame this on hands, pale
as whipped cream, lap
the lip of this table
            like a lover in the mood
            for Philip Glass.

            I hear the jukebox pull the moan
            from Michael Jackson’s Thriller;
            He put a spell on you,
            to make you

            I’ve over six years of slip-resistance
            I’ve seen folds of wet bread
            tread my hands
            so many times under a sprayer
            that steel sinks have become maws
            in my dreams, sucking the water
            from my plates of whirled peas.
            My IBC nightmares
            where my lungs fill up with cream soda
            and I’m weeded in a pool of
            syrup to my nipples
            trying to bring root beer to more tables
than I could ever handle alone.

            In these dreams, I don’t scream,
            I just speak from the mouths of burst butter packets
            tornadoed around my ears,
            but its only when I sleep
            that these walls could get closer
            so I’m touching both sides
            with spread arms, I’m shot dead
in the chest by a ketchup bottle.

Mimi Ferebee


a metal log it is,
rushing, gliding, skating through time,
she is a generation of memories—

yet keeps such wonders to herself,
not even whispering to passengers
about the black-strapped boy on the tracks, his heart
pounding, telling him to hop
to the side, but adrenaline robs his senses,
shakes him like a friend, greedy, & yelling ready-or-not
here she comes

& she does, flying by barely missing him
at the last minute, & what of his playmates,
those cute, strawberry, mississippi girls, 
the ones with pearled magnolias braided into their hair?

that southern drawl sweeping under
their feet, swoops over platted scalps like
double-dutch phone cords

& they all pause, laughing, when he catches
his balance on the other side of the tracks

it was close this time, sure, but not close enough
for their undivided attention

& the train?
she just whistles her chain-gang song,
watching it all, being steered straight, guided gently to the right, left,
that aged growl is the hum of her rigidity scoot,
an over-ground railroad song that she keeps,
undoubtedly to herself

David Greenspan

red spray on the wall in the pattern of a hand waving

i am underwater or thrashing on a carousel
or defeated in a chair while ants swarm over fingertips.
i play hangman with anton chekhov
in an abandoned storefront: charred roof beams,
cinder, gritted fists. a bit like gravity tied to a balloon
all electric noise and sparks.

with vertebrae bent out of shape
he looks at me like folded paper, declares
this word does not contain the letter p.

he leaks like a faucet removing both shoes,
sketches the jungle inside a mason jar.
no plants, just dreadful bodies
covered in gashes and bright orange filament
keeps them tethered to the ground.
anton chekhov is lost in this jungle.

for the word i guess shaving. he mutters
about rats and shooting himself in the thigh.
how the cartridge burrows through raw flesh, howling.

will the letter p emerge from gloom in the final act,
drape a plastic bag around my neckline,
gentle as flaking skin from a sunburn?
the hangman, drunk on warm pig’s blood and human meat.
i will not make the front page, instead newspapers read:
the dog’s fur contains battery acid, a stray nucleus.

Sandra Ketcham

September Garden Burning

Flowers open like fireworks. 
Their reflections caught in bubbles, 
in mist, in the shower of sprinklers.
They explode, high, higher, 
then fall. 

The wet and heavy petals of 
the Mexican Bluebells 
drape melancholically, 
leaking color on the brick planter, 
dripping purple quiet onto 
the burning ground.

And I see your face in the spray, 
in the dirt, in the sky, 
in the arrangement of fallen 
thirsty leaves.

And I see your face in the tree bark, 
rough and crumbly 
and sticky with sap.
Sticky in my memory,
in my mind.

The Spiderwort and 
the feathered yellow ferns 
and twist 
to wrap you and choke you.

The Black-eyed Susans watch and follow, 
then turn from your shade 
to face the sun, 
ashamed of temptation.

You linger,
rooting and spreading and stinging and smothering 
like prickly weeds, 
like nettles, like darkness. 
Like memory.

Tetman Callis


It should go without saying but in case it doesn’t, if you don’t spend
all your money on drugs, you’ll have money for food. You’ll feel so
wealthy. For instance, this guy sitting at the window here, he can’t
believe how wealthy he feels. Attorneys in private practice, plastic
surgeons nipping and tucking, senior civil service workers, they might
think—he doesn’t know what they might think. They might have trouble
making their Porsche payments or finding decent help with housekeeping
and gardening, but he has a bowl of peanuts. Salted and roasted Virginia

Good food.

Fresh salads, other healthful stuffs, he has those, too.

He nibbles at a hangnail. Then another. Not part of any accepted food group.
Scratches his head. Digs the oily dead skin, the tiny bit of it, from
under his nails with his front teeth. Chews it. Small chews, like
nibbles. He likes the texture of it, the tiny, soft adhesion.

Wipes his fingers on the paper napkin—no wiping on the pants! Or on the
shirt, none of that, he doesn’t spend all his money on drugs, he has

Two gnats are at the window, the afternoon sun coming in. He reaches for
the peanuts, eats several. Damn, they are good. Damn. He doesn’t deserve
this, this good stuff, after all the crap he's done. Good food, safe
home, quiet, time to look out the window. Clean bathroom. Decent bed,
though it sags a little. But clean sheets. And a washer and a dryer,
right here on the premises, and clean clothes. He doesn’t deserve any of
this. He knows where the bodies are buried.

He nibbles at another hangnail. Chews the little bit of dried flesh that
comes off. Eats more nuts. Looks out the window. Doesn’t even think of
eating the gnats.

Nicolas Grenier

English translations by Emmanuel Cheiron

Neige prise de vertige dans l'air,
Retournant presque à l’origine ;
- La blancheur du nuage retombe
Sur le paysage en silence.

Snow, in the air taken, dizzy,
To the origins quite coming back.
(White cloud falling back
On the landscape, silently.)


Étendue comme un long rêve,
Tu contemples le ciel
Et retournes à l’air éphémère.

As a vast dream lying
You stare at the sky
Back to the air, fleeting.


À la rencontre du ciel et de la terre,
La neige apparaît comme une Beauté
Qui à chaque instant renouvelle
La forme du paysage.

Between sky and earth,
Snow, as a Beauty
Which is changing
Every moment
The form of the landscape.

Burgess Needle

Dead Stop
Later, I eluded leaves,
heard Mozart at the end.
I was amazed at the end.
After the flush and gasp of love
I knelt by the erotic curve of your side
To hear Mozart’s 21st concerto in C.
We were at the Hotel Pierre,
With its chandelier of prisms
Where I peel away your radiance,
            colors of autumn.
            light splitting
Into blue, red and green
Echo of wild desert grass.
Later, I fell a great distance
            branches grazed me
            there was no time
To recount even one passionate act.
I was speechless as I fell,
            though not silent,
            looking down to see
                        a glass chandelier
                        rushing up.
My voice arrived,
            muffled as a shriek.
One more of life’s inquisitions.
In the end,
            your name punched
            canyon walls,
                        lost itself in arroyos, finally
                        came to a rest some time after
I slammed to a dead stop.

Erren Geraud Kelly

4 train

boho girl
dressed in many worlds
walks around in chuck tailors
with a scarf
bluer than john lee hooker
I compliment her on her
Brown fedora
And she says “thank you”
Wearing john lennon
As she’s walking way
The child annie hall gave up
Long ago

Eric Burke

Two Fictions

Between Me and My Conscience
birds sit on the fence with their mouths open, panting.
I can see their tongues.
"This is a small delicacy
for the eye,"
you say,
"a moment of demotic privilege."
I tap on the glass to scare the cat away.

The Garden
My wife says weeds
are strangling my marigold
seedlings. I do not believe her.

David Kinsey

Sleep On It

It’s that dream again. You know, the one with all the honey and grandfather clocks, and time is ticking in viscous strands. The sky is falling but it’s all papier-mâché, just spit and newspaper, your sweet nothings and I told you so’s. I’m holding your hands and you ask for them back, but I hide them. You think I gift wrapped them and put them in the mail so they can surprise you on your birthday, but it’s nothing but rain, snow, sleet and hail here. You think I swallowed them so I could make a knuckle sandwich joke, and now that you mention that I wish I did. You look down and see that I’m wearing your hands, and you know I did this so you could feel what it was like to be me, but these dreams aren’t about empathy and cheap world play. They’re about you, they’re always about you: you in motion, you descending a stair case, you smashing into me. You can be anybody here in my dreams, anyone I wanted you to be, but you are always you. Your angles. Your vectors. Your wheeze. Your coarse breath against a cup of coffee and a stack of pancakes. We’re at your kitchen table and I’m holding your hands, but this time they’re attached to your arms and I like them better there, that’s where they belong. The food is getting cold and coffee is counting down the minutes, but there will always be more coffee and pancakes. It’s minutes we’re running out of. You know I’m a big dreamer and this one right here is the biggest I’ve had yet, so let’s start boiling water and beating eggs into bisquick. Let’s never wake up.

Haris Adhikari

On the poem 'Buffalo dream' & remembering my maternal uncle

The poem “Buffalo dream” is the result of how I eventually came to realize that the supernatural might possibly exist in a world next to our understanding, and that is why, it occasionally makes claim of its presence in many weird forms like dreams and natural signals.

I remember the Friday night of Royal Massacre in Kathmandu, Nepal. The night was unusually still and covered with almost all red, burnt clouds with some clear sky patches all across – peeping below. Also, it felt like it might rain. My brother’s friend Madhav and I were amazed to see such an unusual manifestation of nature while we were discussing literary theories and postmodern poetry on the roof top of a five storey building late that night at Anamnagar. The same night had witnessed the never-imagined assassination of all members of the Royal Family.

Likewise, traditional Nepali belief about “buffalo dreams” is that somebody close is going to be taken by Yamaraj, the ruler of the underworld. Buffalo is his ride that comes to give signals of death. And this is exactly what I myself saw… and was chased in the dream – buffalo dream.

The day after next day I saw the dream, my maternal uncle left us all.

It is further interesting that my aunt’s daughter Karuna, as she said, had seen a few people dragging long, fresh green bamboo plants in a dream one or two days before he passed away. Such a dream is taken as very ominous in most Hindu communities. (They use fresh green bamboo plants to make a stretcher for the dead body which they first wrap in a white shroud and place it on the bamboo stretcher and carry it to the crematorium, followed by mourners in the procession.)

I find it further more interesting that such and such inexplicable dreams or signals hint at the supernatural power, most often through the means of cultural beliefs and practices.

Sara Basrai


They peer in at the window.

Just another barking crazy mother
dissolving in a flat,
single with 2 children failing,
yes? NO/ yes/ NoYES/No/YES…
we could go on, but we know
the answer is – tick.

Washing erom up, plates, cups, pans.
Suds, she’s pretending bubbles are snow.
She blows. Snowflakes pop
into glass-wearing eyes.

They say as they peer,
“Do/be more, mother!”
(school/ government
bourgeois wo/man
“We're in competition
with other nations…
Put on a nice yellow dress.”

alienation is natural,
she once read when it snowed
so deep the glass vanished.
She’d finished the puzzle
in Sunny Daze Haze.

She always enjoyed word play.

Now she withers
melts, drip-drips, pop-pops
with the suds
No Erom. No more.

They walk away.

Simon Perchik

You never get all its air out
yet this water boiling
takes your hands along --shopping

is its secret passageway
lowered in front this display case
half glass, half with the sea inside

though your heart stays dry
begins to tip-toe past something new
in a box that is not a wound

--to buy is all that's needed
is your fingers squeezing the Earth
for its first river, its first raindrop

flowing slowly as string
no longer thirsty or old
or trying to lift off the lines

from your palm while you count out
one by one :a language
only the dead still understand

--you pay and the bells you hear
know all about how a bubble not yet dry
trickles down on your lips

floating off around the corner
and you can open your eyes again
--you don't hear the moon but it's a start.

And step by step this cane
scratching the way the dead
plant their scepter in the darkness

--they never forget which end
takes hold so you limp along a path
or perhaps your shadow overflowing again

--they rule the ground, commanding it
to rise slowly, let you lag behind
while their castles drag you on

--even here there are nights
warmed by walls and longing
and one knee is always colder

--you make yourself lame
are helped into the turn
years ago pulled down to make room

for rain that no longer falls for you
only these stones that have the speed
are always in front, taking you back.

It's not a beautiful storm
--it needs more time, centuries
perhaps as sea birds

wingtip to wingtip the way water
backs up in the streets
half rain, half from memory

and everyone who died today
holding your hand
and not moving

--there's no more room
though the mourners
lash down the dead

who still give up their lips
trying to remember
safe in the grave

why each kiss now
has no bottom, nothing left
only the gentle breeze to come.

To urge the dead you lift
a small gift, placed so the height
waits motionless alongside

though you can't sleep anymore
afraid once your eyes close
there's no turning back, you'll drift

as darkness into darkness
--you bring these dead a sharp stone
the kind insomniacs find

under the kitchen table
--they loosen each tile
the way flowers are pulled out

still drinking from your hands
on the way to the cemetery --you pick up
everything! roads, shadows, dust

and carefully face to face
as if there was something daylight
left out as shovels and weightlessness.

Inside an ancient gesture this swan
spilling its guts though the pond
never overflows --only one bird

half sun, half longing to flare out
as if the first spark
came from the sky and still needs air

--you come here to breathe
and with one hand scoop the other
from the darkness in your mouth

and because death was done before
you wipe away all doubt
begin to sing till the Earth

circles you, sometimes on fire
sometimes rain falling as dirt
though you are no longer afraid

to clear your throat
--of course this swan is stone
as it should be and the fountain

is stone as it should be
and the sun buried an hour or so ago
under its shallow wings and your arms.