Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2017  Vol. 16 No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Crossing Mourning Kill

Sift the roots of disease—

Pissing evil,
a drafting compass—
to go, to come,
to stand or walk
with legs apart.

To see without the center,
to speak through cracked lips.

To grip with the hands or teeth,
to grasp with the mind.

The mark of a pen,
the striking of a clock,
the single pull of an oar.


No way out through words,
only the momentary stays,
the usual discovery,
litany of awes and ails.


My boy’s three-year checkup
three months overdue.
The rain, and August’s sinny vegetation.
Route 50 South to Burnt Hills,
the pleasure of signs and names,
directions and numbers.
Modest, pitiful facts
amidst passing faces.
Just killing time? Can’t say.


A few days before Christmas, my father’s mother. A few days after, his
best friend. Fishing in March, he scrambled from the river during a
lightning storm, and broke a bone at the bottom of his shin. From the steep
bank back to his truck, a half-mile crawl through the flashing world.


The popping knees, one roughed raw;
the calf-cramp that spiders away;
azien, short breath, a panting;
a single abnormal kernel;
the enlarged veins resembling crab legs;
the spreading sores hard as crab shells.


When road transverses creek,
when now is filled with then,
when the living look to the dead,
when we dwell in the palace of grief.


A catch,
a holding,

An old woman’s
last word: always.

be born.
Amiss? Arise.  

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