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No News

Let’s just say it’s the one describing
her father’s recent illness, how just before his fever broke
his cough morphed into the sound of a steam engine
hauling tourists up the two percent grade
for one last glimpse at fall’s fading colors,

or maybe a request for money to repair her car,
the one her friend borrowed, crashing it
into a utility pole and breaking her leg
after trying to tune the radio from Country
to Rock—or was it vice versa?—

or perhaps an invitation to join the prayer chain
that her new, so-called friends recommended after discovering
her inability to make a financial contribution,
her checking account needing some kind of assistance
to grow from red to black,

or a plea to help pay for her cousin’s
prescription meds, the ones he can no longer afford
since his job and budget were downsized—
cut down with those of many others
to pay for the CEO’s retirement,

or maybe word of the warm spell
bringing rain and wind, the combo toppling
her neighbor’s dying oak—severely topped
just a year or so ago—and collapsing
the newly installed greenhouse like an umbrella,

that is, the message that was never written—
or at least never sent.

By Pity Undeterred

This old ugly contest of who’s on first,
whose prize. I feel ready for tit-and-bum
journalism, finally, ready to
invent new commonplaces, to allow
myself to imagine how it would feel
to believe what I report. But, wary,
I stick to reading. The invitation
writ on the wall of the restroom beckons:

“No strings of any sort.” Of course critics
know that the truly beautiful don’t need
to advertise. Unless making a show
of wanting is in now? I’ve always been
proud of how I earned this reputation
as an authority on wanting. Did
you earn yours? Did he, his? Did she, hers? Fight
not these incessant wars. Where shall we take

our long holiday? Nowhere near here, please,
where we’d be forced for consistency’s sake
to maledict the dead. Let us go far
to somewhere sunny and out of reach. Where
any old dead log might burst into leaf
and flourish like a fashion magazine.
Is that me? A dead log crying to be
made anew a god above all regret—

mired in the process, not nearly half-
baked. When you touch the pan I tremble like
a custard. I record the testament
of any old partially crushed dead log,
suited only to be supervisor
to paper wasps in their dry catacombs.
In the hotels I stay in, I dream of
knowing the people I hear in the hall.


Consider an arc crossing the cosmos
nine billion light years away
a bit of order making the chaos

spookier             Consider a small boy
flying through a park                   chasing two
huskies               one with gray eyes

The boy’s not calling their names
simply running and waving a strap
while his dogs scamper away

and don’t even stop to sniff
my own tame hound               Who gives
a child such a task               For a while

I follow at a distance               then
cut the angle toward pines
and brush–home to rabbits
that might draw the truants

The gathering dark               of course
swallows the trio               leaves me
another sad adult lagging behind
staring up at stars I can’t name

The day you died I thought-

I want to move around unseen       whisper
my breath over your brow       brush my fingertips       along
your jaw       slack

I’d like to draw your breath            in       for you,
pull           your lungs into a crest               push them back           down

I can only turn, look, trace
lines between motes in the air
hear your voice

that feather on my kitchen floor

Street Corner Muse

Out of the blank dark she comes to give it all away.

A world full of nights living in her eyes

Cigarette between her pencil thin lips 

Pacing the chessboard floor 

Desperate, the siren call of her past

Bleeding upon the altar of dead men’s words.

Closing the door on all the rest 

Alone w/ Some Grackle, Starling or Crow

mimicking tongue, parodying / the world – Edwards

A bird strange within the walls of my chest
is caught, who being hurt takes cruel delight
in humiliating me. Having learned a few
words, scant and hurtful, it mutters these,
mutters from the stone it sits upon in
the deep trap of my sinew-bound chest.
The scrape inside me, its wing against bone,
is ceaseless; its indistinct voice, constant.
What the harsh bird says I can’t make out through
the muffling walls of its unlit cell; hence
if there’s justice in its abuse of me,
if I’ve had it coming, I cannot tell.
If ever someone was close to me who could
interpret (or calm) its song, they’ve gone.

Epigraph from Rhian Edwards’ poem “The Birds of Rhiannon”, from the pamphlet Brood.