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