Noir, noir,
The night has come,

The human scale
Is tipped, the rut,

The groove, the frame
Of mind forming

Out of themselves

Out of the heart’s
Dark corners

A single tolling note—
Clouds drift overhead

Slow, white—
In these moving shapes

A hidden ultimatum
Moves. One looks to

And listens for, say,
A future, in which

One imagines what is
Spoken has meaning, is

Carried over, as over
A causeway to a city

About to be sacked.
Around him now

The temple starts to burn.
He is singing.

What is he singing?
He is singing.

Why is he singing?
He is singing.

From lowered eyes
A touch of malice

Twinkles. In lips’
Trifling tremors,

In cheeks’ checked
Bloom—a word,

A tone, a measure.
It might be true

The thing I hunger for
Is here in all its fullness,

Slightly obscured
And just out of reach.

Only give me
The name that

Calls it forth
To frighten and amaze

By the spectacle
Of its own privation.

The invisible sun
Within flickers still.

It burns. Let it burn.
For no one.


Michael Kelleher

Michael Kelleher is the author of To Be Sung (Blazevox, 2005), as well as the chapbooks Cuba (Phylum, 2002), Bacchanalia (Quinella, 1999) and The Necessary Elephant (Ota Molloy, 1998). His poems and essays have appeared in Slope, ecopoetics, The Poetry Project Newsletter, Kiosk, The Buffalo News, and others. He lives in Buffalo, NY, where he works as the Artistic Director of Just Buffalo Literary Center and as literary editor for Artvoice, the alternative weekly.