by Brian Swann

which way the day goes depends                              on the winds and where                  it ends depends                                       on their shadows and            where I’ve been depends                                 on words which are always                             too thin                                         and                                    too quick so   I’m left grasping to snag                                                their skins                                          and  crawl inside                                   and

          go back into dream where I wander                           about wondering who’s                  the original                                 and                              who’s the Aztec impersonator                                    and who’s wearing who

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                                                   until                    I wake in the dark, wordless, throw on some clothes, go                                                 to the door sure              I heard something like the snap                                           of bone, click                             of manacle, fading barks of dogs,     and push the door open                                           slowly,                                                 thinking I see dark figures moving,                         rousing turkeys in the draw,                                                             and I set off               under dimming star-routes until in the distance I think I see                                                                         a house much like the one       I left but too bright to be visible, so                    I return and begin my day, another day of

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                                                                picking at myself

                              chewing nails down to nubs, filing                                        and shaping,                          squeezing pores,              scratching the scalp bloody,                                clipping, shaving, gouging,                           trying it seems            to dig myself out to a wordless core, as if       something’s there, or vanish the way                              my father did sticking blades into his ears,                      working himself into bottles like a four-master,                               or my sister cutting herself, or my mother   addicted to enemas and neti pots

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                               while time goes by as spun glass, shining echoes,              rivers on which I drift downstream, floating over    drowned towns whose voices rise and                  flow around rocks, form figures in smoke,           shadows of the shadowless,                                 and when I look up there are                             trees expressing sky with migrating birds,                              until the pole-star                turns, grinding from eternity                                        time in which                 a year’s a month, a month a day, a day an hour,           an hour a minute which is enough for me to listen                           for the hermit thrush who each day prays the sun up out of the ground, floats it over                                              the rough wall              that opens flowers of the trumpet-vine, here                        where time drifts beyond itself, and keeps going, silent

Published on May 23, 2019