Blackbird an online journal of literature and the arts Spring 2008 Vol. 7 No. 1



What Was Left

I didn’t think it was going to be this bad, they say. 
They are disembodied voices, names tacked to bulletin

boards, names spoken by others, the face you didn’t see
through the window. They are

voices crackling through radio waves interviewed
by reporters from Phoenix and France

who stress the value of things
other than money, who have not ever put their lips

around the end of a green earthy garden hose
and sucked. It is always: a photograph, old letters, 

what did not fit into the black plastic garbage bag.
The green tube will give and resist against your teeth,

and you will feel in the back of your throat, where taste
meets scent, those summer afternoons,

after mowing neighborhood lawns when the gassy throttle
punctuated your chest, and the heat, and raspberry bramble catching

your skin by surprise. And you will feel the pages and must as you curled
around Lolita, stolen from the high school library. 

As you suck, you will feel the slippery alarm of Humbert Humbert
when he could not turn back.

The reporters ask about this
and more, the filmmakers will hold their cameras high

above the scrap and sludge using the zoom
like Pavlov’s bell. The captions will make looters, the screenwriters

will make the films, there will be books, we will write
about you. But timing is all you can think.

This microphone picks up everything:
a cough, static of grit

and gravel, your concentration like
the vacuum holding a jar’s seal. Your name

is already swirling in eddies.
We can only imagine the outline of your body.  

return to top