G.C. Waldrep

first person

draw the empty frames
from their hope chest
(the folded gray uniform
long gone to dust)

wreathed in ash
I fletch the sky’s reed-sister
as if all human
wrongs were never-
helmsmen, never-priests

on Mount Monadnock
I tested the berries
(sweet in summer: True)
against flesh’s flame

the body’s silver specie
a music in my mind
ghost-music, -specie
can’t be your mirror, I
cheats death again

the root & its entourage
ark-in-the-forest,
zither-      lit & -strung

don your ghost-uniform
muster me in cyme-
light, marrow-light,
unbide my tender service

untitled (specimen dowry)

Pearl pearl be my docent—

the green wedge
attests—&, the singing cleat—

I have many secret debts—

The human body is a system—

the dream sweeps
through, & puts music away—

my life in the great courts

 

*

to address the least durable moment—
trace-protection
a mythos conferred, heavy gender
weighting the forest’s punctum—

faith’s
     same four notes in the understory—

manna

shelter-vessel, the medulla’s gray star

      the copper pit in which I face you
shifts aside, lobed with the literal—

extraction’s logic: adduce vs adjourn
—my tasting-garment, fragrant hyphae

stoop to murmur        in flood of thee

G.C. Waldrep’s most recent books are a long poem, Testament (BOA Editions, 2015), and a chapbook, Susquehanna (Omnidawn, 2013). With Joshua Corey he edited The Arcadia Project: North American Postmodern Pastoral (Ahsahta, 2012). His new collection, feast gently, is due out from Tupelo Press in 2018. He lives in Lewisburg, Pa., where he teaches at Bucknell University, edits the journal West Branch, and serves as Editor-at-Large for The Kenyon Review.

F. Daniel Rzicznek

from Leafmold

 

Everything unclean can be washed. Everything unwashable can be burned. The red-tailed hawk’s icewater cry draws the throb from a bruised knuckle but only for a prolonged instant. Could not make a thing today. Could not make enough self fast enough. Make in the morning, before the day knows what to do. Make while the dogs are hungry. Have you ever really hugged a dog, down on its level? That unstable, breathing altar, maybe a model for the first table? We’re caught up: running at your side: at heel: it is just like the West to frame every last detail in terms of itself. Change for me, change for me, but do not change. Cato the Younger was born some two thousand years ago and we are still debating his suicide. Dr. Sleepdream of anonymous bombast asks what the sailboat resembles, as if the answer could be otherwise. Nicknamed by fate, you looked to a point entirely unknown but fathomed by mathematics alone. A great blue heron through the backyard’s treetops — the ordinary luck of living on a drained swamp. The angel-orange of the dash’s warning light brings the wholesale weight of our stress to the icy, air-chocked surface.

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Freedom from science ends up meaning more science. I cook cod’s tongues in the back of my fevered throat while the sick dog snores and dreams. The well-tailored remains of a visceral stupidity at odds with its own psychotropic lust. A flush beats a pair. My hotel rule: always take the pen and notepad. My heroin rule: never do it. My funeral rule: why bother. My Frank Lloyd Wright rule: nod and bow to the waterside grasses. The old dog sneezes violently and I am forced to break my write-with-black-ink rule. Combing back through all of these eight years. Line of dots in the margins. Inaccuracies and errata smuggled via alternate versions of this weird life. Out of the piñata: embryos, platypus eggs, capers, AAA batteries, candy corn, fur-lined boots, Communism, beanfields, the paintings of George Bellows — all of them, a halo of unspoken thoughts, the current cattle population of North America, greenhouses choked with grape tomatoes, everyone who has ever died of appendicitis, mercy. How many poets are looking at the sky right now? They see the bottom of the page and turn back. Driven wild by purity, the mind sits on its hands, watches the ruins burn, feels its nails growing.

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Reeking of smoked salmon and white Rhone, I enter the chapel. Something behind the body. Something past. A response to a response: redeemed, astronomical, begin. The Broadman Hymnal I grip smells of laughter and the crackling of pipe tobacco in ancient hands. My doctor and I discuss the inevitability of advertisements delivered via wireless signal directly to the brain. My doctor and I discuss the lost art of trephination. Lines of power slope between one world and the next: they cannot be cut, cannot even be touched. Reading about canine psychology at forty thousand feet raises some questions: Just how long ago were these nails claws? and Isn’t anything with a brain roughly human? Back home a pine full with fog coughs up the moon. Ducks of sleep, flock of visions, bouncing room to room with night’s woody music: full of stems and structure. We cover ourselves with garments to forget the fact of our animalism. We go so far as to cover ourselves with animals. Animals then cover us with their various hungers. The scarlet seeping forward is the beginning of something holy.

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A nation of mirrors — the clergy gone berserk, the politicians stepping noiselessly onto the moon, the midwives with their ears covered and backs turned. It’s all I can do to bring myself to cook a little toast in the morning. It is a cloud of knowing that arrives as transport: finger cymbals chiming in the sperm whale’s tummy, cardinals on branches singing “take me to the river,” Brahmins waltzing silently through mud, through body-ash. Listening about violence at the reading, I realize I have never hit a man on part of his head with either of my fists. Tabula rasa followed with a question mark. The streets grow older with rain, younger with snow, and stain themselves into the ongoing present with the still heat of July, memory just another way of saying cut your hair or tap your head to the window and pray. Random as a feather: an urge, an affection, a reunion of the senses, a gallery of seers. The library could deliver something heinous — not a vitamin, not a salve, not a remedy, but a text like a free state, a paregoric of the brain, a motion resolved by downpour.

F. Daniel Rzicznek is the author of two poetry collections, Divination Machine (Free Verse Editions/Parlor Press, 2009) and Neck of the World (Utah State University Press, 2007), as well as four chapbooks, most recently Live Feeds (Epiphany Editions, 2015). His recent poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Volt, Kenyon Review, Massachusetts Review, The Pinch, Natural Bridge, and elsewhere. Also coeditor of The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Prose Poetry: Contemporary Poets in Discussion and Practice (Rose Metal Press, 2010), Rzicznek teaches writing at Bowling Green State University.

Caolan Madden

Poetics of Loneliness

The silence, the league of witches.
The clean bed. I am no man’s
Elizabeth;
that unclaimed feeling.

Moonlit meadow, crooked tree.
Is it confessional. Is it persona.
To invest instead in information
somehow not processed by a body

The words deformed by a throat and
the fingers deformed by words,
the slick of fat on the cauldron

Once or twice under the winter sky,
midwinter, gold window. Summer,
a roof, once or twice. A candle
changes a face. A body the snow.

Your Mother Wasted a Year

Your mother drank nine million tequila gimlets

Your mother wanted them foamy

Your mother read Fifty Shades of Grey

Your mother walked up Rugby Road feeling restless feeling that teenage feeling feeling spoiled

Your mother walked up Rugby Road singing Summer is ready/when you are and it was summer

Your mother walked up Rugby Road listening to Summer is ready/when you are and it was technically the last day of winter/the magnolia bulbs were hard knobs against the gray sky/you were a hard knob against your mother’s pelvis/she lifted her feet one by one by

Your mother’s manicure was Blue-Away and impeccable

Your mother’s lipstick was NSFW

Your mother drank seven Estonian beers

Your mother poured that year down the drain like the coffee in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Your mother knew that waste is luxury

Your mother said I don’t want to grow up I want to spoil

Your mother didn’t want to lose weight

Your mother didn’t want to do homework

Your mother didn’t want to lean in

Your mother didn’t want to preregister for daycare

Your mother lost touch with all her friends

Your mother only played video games

Your mother leveled up but not IRL

Your mother held the domestic record for longest quickening chain in Final Fantasy XII

Then your father achieved the same score but only after

Your mother knows it’s mean to say the year in which you were conceived is a year she wasted

Your mother knows that now that you, the trace of you, exists, she can never waste anything again

Your mother knows that “can never” means “should never” but also “will never be able to”

Your mother knows that “she can never” means “she is not”

Your mother knows that when you made your shape known she folded up her I

Your mother holds you in her pocket like a ticket

Your mother could not lift her head from the sofa on New Year’s Eve

Your mother said why didn’t anyone invite me anywhere for New Year’s Eve

Your mother used to think what if I threw myself under a truck

Your mother thinks what if I let you kill me

Your mother painted your room blue because you’re supposed to be a girl

Your mother was denied financing

Your mother walked up Rugby Road and “Pretty Good Year” came on and she thought

Your mother used to feel bad about the boys she couldn’t love

Your mother knows you are her opus

Your mother wrote you all over her diary

Your mother put you on her google calendar

Your mother knows she will get the reminder

Caolan Madden has an MFA from Johns Hopkins and is currently a PhD candidate in English literature at Rutgers. Her poems and essays have appeared in Bone Bouquet, Black Warrior Review, Split Lip, Anthropoid, and WEIRD SISTER. VAST NECROHOL, a chapbook-length poem in the form of a video game, is forthcoming from Hyacinth Girl Press.

Julia Leverone

Anew

Look upon me.
Minerva’s done this.
In the blue depths
human hair floats willfully
and now, above,
mine slithers, fixed;
I am in love with it.

As far as Poseidon,
I remember clearly
sliding throughout the bulge of the sea,
some of it getting in me —
that it made me jolt and buck
with its implacable shifting, its twisting.

Released like some bone-bereft jellyfish,
I am now one of those, all
head and hair, and hope
never to return to the beforehand;
I am a mother of myth.

Cursed by my kind,
I am more than what were once my kind;
winged horses burst from me
Medusa,
Medusae.

Naturalist

A material thing on the verge of being split
can emit light, the energy surging through it
causing triboluminescence.
The force of keeping
together against pulling away — earthquakes
do it, burst into short show.
Light
renouncing: though the words we have for it
sound slow, are a mouthful, like the day too full

of light in the far north in the summer: 3
a.m. and the sun on water dancing,
never quite faded.
But that’s a tipping
and a siphoning, a sky refilling — not an avalanche
you might miss —

when you came to me, smiling,
there was already a tearing: I bit your skin,
I pulled away,
but understand that I was forming
bonds for both: it was fire working
for adhesion, a little necessary repulsion.

Julia Leverone is an instructor of Spanish and creative writing. She has two chapbooks; Little Escape, winner of the Claudia Emerson Poetry Chapbook Award, will emerge in 2017. Her translations from the Spanish have appeared or are forthcoming in Gulf Coast, Witness, and elsewhere. A comparatist in office and in her bones, she is from Massachusetts, and lives in Texas.

Gregory Crosby

The Marquis of Sad

I.

Freedom is melancholy; melancholy, freedom.
At least, that’s what the weird sisters told me.

Once spoken, every word is true, even
all the words yoked to great chains of lies.

I never go down to the river for fear
of finding myself on the opposite bank,

not knowing how I came to be there,
miles from any crossing. But I can hear it.

I can hear the rocks suffering the rapids,
the teeming foam of my mind searching for

the tarn of Auber. It’s always in the first
place you look, always in the very last line.

If I say my heart is heavy, it’s because
my heart dowses water; the hidden spring

tugs at it like an impatient child. Now?
it asks. Now? Then when? When? Are we there yet?

II.

The Knight always stands in stark contrast
to Melencolia: his action & resolve opposed

to her pensive, passive hours, but look again
to his face beneath his helm. Look at his eyes.

He already feels the dragon’s neck beneath
his boot heel & he’s sorry to have ever heard

of damsels, princesses, sacrifices.
Look again at her face: the look of one who

goes to war knowing there is no victory,
only survival. Those who live to fight

another day know the days are endless…
days upon days, forever armed to the teeth.

III.

I know that the person who uses the word
escapist as a pejorative is most likely

a jailer. A cow caught running in the street
ahead of its slaughter date was returned

to the butcher who declined to kill it,
turning it over to a sanctuary

where no one is eaten by anything but
time. Once in a while, the universe is so

magnanimous that it breaks your heart in two.
It comes back to you, this story, whenever

you fire up the grill to the sound of your
empty stomach, the coals aching with red.

IV.

Here in the Bastille of Monday morning,
Sunday morning comes down with a fever,

dying for lack of water, a word of kindness.
From the cell of the warden’s office, I rejoice.

When the rabble tear this week down, brick by brick,
this is what I will miss the most: the quiet

hour where I sign, with a flourish, another
letter of resignation that no one will accept.

V.

Everybody dies alone & that is beautiful.
Of course, it sounds funny when you sing it.

There are some gestures that can only be seen,
never felt. Unless you make them yourself.

Noblesse oblige requires me to tell you this.
Now, please, let me eat my cake (here’s a slice for you).

Solstice Goddamn

Summer doesn’t care about elections.
The moon, she is full, with no more fucks to give.
All this death another sticky note: Live!

Every moment is a course correction;
we have overcorrected. Connections
without connecting. No time to relive

the ravenous instant, the open sieve.
The breeze, she never makes any objections.
I’m gonna take off my shoes, climb a tree,

& learn to play the flute. The grass is dying
to be crushed under you. The stars unseen
would give their last light to be in Arcadia,

too. There’s a suit of heat rising to clothe you
in sky blue, in dark clouds of thunderous now,
threatening from an unimaginable height.

Imagine it. The bee buzzing in your blood.
The longest longing day, stretching out to meet
your shadow amidst the shadows of the flood.

Gregory Crosby is the author of the chapbooks Spooky Action at a Distance (The Operating System, 2014) and The Book of Thirteen (Yes Poetry, 2016). He teaches creative writing in the College Now program at Lehman College.

Rob Cook

Shadow Poem

Holding the ground together,
my shadow despises me.

Its pain causes a symptom
of sinkholes when I walk between
its bottomless houses.

It makes every winter longer
by one hallway hidden among the evergreens.

My current shadow,
made from all my previous shadows,
wants me alone
inside its damnation.

I’ve come to understand
the wind is just my shadow
moving its weapons from tree to tree.

I can listen for its baritone footsteps
when I run out of good things
to say to myself,
the good things that keep a person alive.

“Oblivion can be measured
by the depth of a single shadow,”
I told the one that belonged
in its place behind my back.

It blames me
for its irreversible darkness.
It steals my few cups of strength.
It makes the face of a failing liver and never changes.
It grows its food from sleep
that never makes it to the Earth.

My shadow, always taller than me,
flaunts its sadness
because it is not admired
by the happier, more gifted shadows.

It leads me through its hallways,
past the final, cringing bodies of sunlight
until I fall, like something
that never existed, into the thoughts
of its raging dark puddles.

The Soulmate Who Lives Only in my Sleep

I had to give up all knowledge of time passing to find my bedroom again. Then there was just a blinking traffic light that sang to a girl frightened by the next room’s whispered lovemaking. She screamed because I didn’t know how to stop anyone.

“Why does your room keep touching me,” she sobbed.

I dismantled the days in my shopping channel hallucinations — maybe the fossils of video tape are lies told by those who vanished there.

And now I peel the skin off a picnic table. It says “God loves Carianne” before it fades to a half-convincing shyness. I write over its wooden winter: “I will not love. I will not love. I will not love.” And that word with none of its original immortality.

The frightened girl stays in the middle of my sleep where we chop the light into many children. Following the flow of her loosened hair, I arrive only at the wrong mornings. I spend the days mapping what I left behind, and it takes every degree of body temperature, every way of looking at the things she said to me that meant nothing.

I try not to love the girl who lives in my sleep — she has no hands, no mouth, no skin, nothing that can be felt from anywhere. I don’t know her name, though I carry her across the same bed always.

“It’s not a dream,” I tell her.

But she still can’t feel me licking the infant monoliths from her blurred pubis where something might still be sad or looking for us. I tell her that every shadow I ever made required all my concentration, and that I fell forever inside those holes to the hells of Hackettstown.

She hears nothing, not even the birds unraveling my sleep, its little clump of clothing where it’s possible my shirt still breathes heavier than hers. I ask if the windows record our feelings and then leave a kiss on her neck, but it does not survive.

She dampens her morning cigarettes, each somehow a child that will never recognize the way a window’s emptiness advances while the trees stay the same.

Stealing the day’s ration of space from a dandelion, she tapes her body to the bed again.

We do not advance to the same minute together.

Rob Cook lives in New York City’s East Village. His most recent books are Empire in the Shade of a Grass Blade (Bitter Oleander Press, 2013) and The Undermining of the Democratic Club (Spuyten Duyvil, 2014) and his work has appeared or will appear in Hotel Amerika, Birmingham Poetry Review, Caliban, Epiphany, Verse, The Laurel Review, Chattahoochee Review, American Journal of Poetry, Redactions, Phantom Drift, The Antioch Review, etc. He is currently working on a biography of Uli Jon Roth and a collection of poems tentatively titled either The War on Little Things or Voyage to the Middle of the Dark Summer.

James Capozzi

Nimrod in Hell

asleep in a room with no windows or walls
basted by the city’s voice

from the agora’s fugue one rawdog appears
to stab you with a screwdriver
or crumple your skull with a spade
because of your dialect, politics, face

it’s that other face, the cotton one, wheels
toward shore-of-the-bathers
surrenders to sun

until features, idiom        hair burn & peel off

& your shadow version rises from its cot
with a claw where the hand was
to kill Time flying in the palms

with jetties beneath
the creature of your being

momma named you after a king

so you remain for good in this
volley of bats, threat-admixed-with-pleasure
sum rhythm of women beating laundry
power washer roaring on your hovel

all for you, the murderous fist
the assassin’s face like a shovel

La Reconquista

el division
is certain . the cristians
abandon . all intent and the other
hired men had enough

they lose their nerve in this
valley where the castle burns
a sham heaven is all
they defend

if so . then
hoorah for the moors
the bosk smells like sugar . no vaca no cactus
torched earth poses

troubling questions
of what things are in the forest

James Capozzi is the author of Country Album (Parlor Press 2012), which won the New Measure Poetry Prize. His poems have appeared in Poetry, New Republic, The Iowa Review, and elsewhere.

Matthew Burns

Ghosts

The fog in
my throat:
palpable
zero — zero
being nothing
but, like
the past:
still there
and affecting.

Breath of
sky — my
visible breath
both unraveling
from and back
into grumbling
lungs.

Exhale, breath;
this is
where it ends,
round and
perfect.

The air:
perfect, equal
presence
on either
side of
my chest
in the morning.

Under the mass
of sky
laid low
and appearing
now is something,
finally,
we can see.

This must be
what welcomes us
as ghosts.

The Border

We have no way of indicating where
one location ends and another begins…
                                         —The Onion, March 25, 2015

or whatever belongs
anywhere. We have somehow,
in haste and hubris, walked
into a deep night.
Right now I am reaching

for some tree or signpost
or mile marker that sticks
in the heavy dark.
If this is what
tomorrow will be,

then let me fall
into some lost stupor.
The line I drew
across the map of my life
last night has gone to dust,

and I am now nothing
but the sum of every assumption
and guess made in the dark.
I am dumb.
I will confide in you,

my friend, my concierge,
my brother conspirator:
whatever meant something
last night now means little
beyond the menial and greedy.

Don’t listen to me;
it is raining, and I am filled
with the white space
of erasure as sheep
are filled with grass in spring.

That is: wholly. Here.
Let me say what I think
I mean: It looks like rain
on the road tonight —
there is rain on the road tonight.

Matthew Burns teaches writing and literature in upstate New York. His poems have won a James Hearst Poetry Prize from North American Review, received Pushcart and Best of the Net nominations, and have appeared or are forthcoming in RHINO, ellipsis…, The Raleigh Review, Camas, Spoon River Poetry Review, Quiddity, LimeHawk, and others.

Anselm Berrigan

Pregrets

deanimate squeaks harmonize for hula hoops, evolving
squabble, I’m constantly almost smacking perma-fear
into, we almost knew each other’s variation, fire’s
on screen, the tender’s bag is blowing pipey wind
iconoclastic in the submergent future, another one
was the phial, any snakes nearby, they even moved
like you, puice in the ghosthouse, retinal anecdotes
their backs, skywritten, are turned to you, next to
being ridden dimensionally, you’re the eohippus
the D is the jockey, since my groom loon’s doomed
on the glass, he’s flat, ready to be inverted into pictures
the filth-ridden Titan phone booth a few feet north
to the right lives in fear of painterly execution, efficient
Boozer adjusts to role on bench, following pseudo-
pseudonym, a grasshopper swimming with grasshoppers
old dirty classic of the period, imaginary dingleberries
stank-optional, I need these things out now — I might
be dead later, I’m not expecting fragment bump, fall
away bump, pile on & still exude bump aura, reverse
the outer corners until specific arrival mandates itself
into existence, hi Satan, your schemes lack gmos & bpas
& rbis, & contested amphibian blunt imitations, yays
the re-ape for the Divine Mystery of the Universe is an
open secret, as I just got told by a firm, a rapid, a very
agreeable transparent, no, flesh-colored premise

Degrets

image productions sells us our meltdowns, we con
ourselves into participation, coming on an of at ages
laughter is very very good to the coeval populace
disfigured via comparison with flow, I don’t know
numerously, flattened impact players mounting real
madness & ending anti-heroically, even sanity ain’t
sane today, disinvited to play Dragon City please
snipers gotta stop ripping off pigeons, first vision’s
the vulgar one, sadness tones given by the dark
dominant, a self-portrait all ash-colored, true para-
sites of the object, glad I figured out how to be kinder
to my brother, outside of any unfortunate art please
accept all my regards, zapf explains, your rethought
got rethoughted, or verily skate-ragged & rebesotted
neutrality in shadows, misuse of shadows, when you
put camouflage on I can’t see the bummer’s rehab
eternal, if to be is the object of resurgence merged
with insurgence, we’ll be a nice menu memory
druggy in huggies, replacement level topless vatican
protestor who stole jesus free, I used my transfer
drawing to hop on unlimited lead heads from behind
the practiced shadow in a form of public, shape
contains form & moves for listeners listening to
how you say you see walking get held on the aves
the sides the gaps the co-flats the blocks the hoary
periwinkle tune symbols shuffling down into locks

Regrets

too tired to be the monster, every thing’s the wrong
words, blind spot warning mistaking the comforts
of legitimacy for ambition, naked lovers of wisdom
hoists a three, amazingly few movement motives
used, confession use, vanity divinity caress, a helmet-
to-helmet blow, which involved no helmets touching
red purgatorial tire swing making angles over leaves
out of spin, the leaves gently raise ground as names
of convenience fail to reappear, names vanish into
sound, a walled-up camera disappears into condo-land
mildly fascist brunch snuggles with livers, complicity
traitor favorited live, fleetingly, no time for poems
with all this e-sociology poised to bite in disparate
need of absolute paragons, dressed on the cheap
like warmth installed, reddish bunny balloon metal
worth lobby millions plants its non-ass here, to be
seen through allowable glass, pen explosion hair
getting a touch of the old iron filing, receding into
a shammy cottage playing at industrial parquet
reserve, stick a flat bug fiat onto prosody plane, call
it sub-local divinity for lack of a common affect
to disabuse of its urgent withdrawal, we are in view
through diamond cut into theater site privately torn
down, brought to the shop to enliven assigned elegies
all potential seeing things run themselves, like, away

Anselm Berrigan’s recent books include Come In Alone (Wave, 2016) & Primitive State (Edge, 2015). He is the editor of What Is Poetry?(Just kidding, I know you know): Interviews from the Poetry Project Newsletter 1983-2009, due out this spring from Wave Books.

Dennis Barone

Vast Oculus

Away from the window there is no searing flash of light. It is enough to stop the blows of the compass. Images upon an inkwell, it is all very confusing and mute resignation accompanies this section, the sunlight and fresh air. At the shop attached to the assembly hall we used to sing with a weary expression anything that made us feel excitement. Another world existed beyond the armchair — like the point of a rapier! Yet I was happy and seemed somewhere beyond the horizon. Who knew the tremendous emphasis placed on school? The ditch-digger managed to smile. Away from home I was restless, brooding, and took to wandering the streets. The doctor had gone and I started munching a sandwich. Experience taught us to discuss success, but the words would not come. The idea was that in everything new we have free passage. Once more life in a metropolis existed between excitement and a bored waiting for half that amount, two pages well-translated. What exactly fascinated and tormented children? It was the same old story. Shortly before, we finally got around to an important lesson which could never be bound to money. It was good enough for the outside world. It was as if the church might scheme to stay on with last-minute comments. It was the short-answer type of question and the place upside down. It was the accumulated dead and the boys working longer for a few barrels down in the cellar. This neighborhood of problems and casual talk: the beautiful new costumes, the days of tension and struggle. The deciding factor fetched downstairs among salves and dance halls. All this was in addition to those dishes still avoided at lunchtime. See how eager they become? Strike home with the truth, something preying on the mind for a long time. It was here in the new building until late in the evening and the students had walked out in protest. But the crowd and the police and the teachers, everyone had an uneasy feeling that somehow the permanent record would be marked in pencil.

He came without money which means defeat sometimes. He was, in fact, lean and sickly. Beside his bed, there was a child. He was forced to stay in bed. It was a horrible thing that he had to do: the immobile furniture, the weight of sunken desires, and a sort of silence that happens every day. In every house by the windows the heart remains in the night something wrong as if dust and brushes. There are some flowers on the window sill, a tangle of unmown grass. One fellow goes away from the world, gets up with scattered ash. Another voice says not to fear the truth, to understand the neighbor, the houses, and this land. Don’t say, here it is and God-knows that’s why and of course! He may dream a sky, a grey mirror over the vault, a whole day at the bottom of laughter, reeds and geraniums. And look, is he going to gesture open-eyed and independent? In the darkness he’ll be irresponsible then bewildered by sudden light. And, as if this were not enough, the continual uproar of a blast furnace meddles and nags this damning sentimentality of personal tragedy. He cannot let others talk. He doesn’t see sweet words, these features of a face in the air and old worlds meant to be obvious and noisier then any required simplicity, an apology to the admired fine slang of tenderness and hope. But we are not through. Let’s open the words themselves, a word moldy and trotting on, anything — the wrangle of sleep and dogma and color, the sky, the utterly impractical necessary. He was born and he has lived a little bit with the emptiness of forgotten inky pens.

The world originated in ferment. Nor was this all. Talk emerged in a pure unadulterated form. There are elements held out to decipher between them a fitting memorial, a spin-off of the true practice. Birds by any standard prospered as a force to contend with until too many years later they became our last resort. Reaching out to the suburbs had managed to be discovered and that welcomed their nests wide. They had no pressing business and would neglect social compromise. In no case was it said that certain food needed to be served; that they eased themselves over monuments and lost count at feasts. What is noticeable between tradition and a lone voice crying against abuse needs to be added to so many perfect gemstones. Let us cast some of this in more sophisticated terms. Elites by and large must be seen as overtures to a creative and decorous order, an assortment of friends. And they mutely support an old esteem for nature but keep community gifts bound to their paper creations. Seen in this context, exalted reason advances enough of us to force all creation toward the very best. To pick a rose works through their efforts nearly all of the hours. Closest of all as a model are the fateful syllables, the generalized ethos of this wood and that holiday. Turn back the dedication and continually use the already-cited names, the best construction that can be made of its marble so violated and brought to our chests. The fields in the first two verses have been a source of great pride for us and the last line may be intentional — a bearer of joy — or simply abandoned for a song.

It is not difficult to know what place makes us examine our remaining books. These works have everything palpable and known, a harmony that makes us forget the incontestable. We leap from the enormous weight and follow ideas without bodies: poetry. Let us then lose the world. Memory holds the rattle and peaceful feelings. A few words become embroidered in thought that should be a nest, a house. If we want to find such spectacles spoiled, then stray from each letter. Everything goes straight to the fireworks when we remember who said suffer horror, nothing positive, whatever. Then bitterness and fear unite in thoughts that start here in front of a better heart, the very best one. We make the spirit, the other roads into shadow; the glow and the fire. We speak of air and the moment igniting. We go into the step that reverberates like white wheels that will never diminish the surface of the day. Under us, this sun and yours too — space, everything, an infinite spin.

Dennis Barone is the editor of Garnet Poems: An Anthology of Connecticut Poetry Since 1776 (Wesleyan University Press 2012) and the author most recently of Sound / Hammer (Quale Press 2015) and Beyond Memory: Italian Protestants in Italy and America (SUNY Press 2016).