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The Brooklyn Rail

SEPT 2020

All Issues
SEPT 2020 Issue
Poetry

three


How the Vase Fell Off the Windowsill



In this enormous hospital
the given flower is still you
a most narrow passage
you found your way to the back
of the truth


I never got the chance to tell you
truth can be recombined
inside a shadow
the inverted diurnal world
where I should still admit
I am sorry


plush without testament
in a vase of water
my mistaken identity
never got the chance to tell you
your line drawings of air
help bear the heat of love









My Bad



I


The crickets said it was over
we’d set the earth to rest
between one breath and the next
a world dreams itself dry


no cure for the marvelous
but lacking staff to stuff so many radioactive animal parts
into the mouth of a furnace
the citizens rallied by candlelight


is there anything about which nothing has been said
a country where once I meant to found a ruin
or attend a school for gilding icons


speaking truth to pathos
she solved some small pink riddles
the only reason that I think I think



II


The crickets call it a night
our planet deep in its slumbers
where desiccation was just a forlorn hope
love goes in one ear and out the other


will wonders never cease
they never give you the breakdown you deserve
throwing stray objects out the window is no fun
when light and terrible heat collect in your ballet shoes without instruction


the dictionary’s lengthy entry headed silence
das Land wo die Zitronen blühn
where no one’s raised the funding for a memory farm


eating silence all day long
at least until a secret spreads its wings
her space folds itself around you



III


If only I glimpse it for a moment
your secret is safest with me


figure ground down to scratches
of those I most regret missing


and never knew how you disliked them
etc. ad libitum









Emergency Landing on Water



Autumn memory remains
a word neither yes nor no
found scratched in the margin of a discarded notebook
a passing visitor
left in suspense upon a table


it was an absorbed neighborhood
you touched up into the past
what with all the rain and fog you ever imagined
wrapped around your fluttering self


escape lights will show you
the way to the exits
stars looking all serious and old-fashioned
are just ideas you blurted out


or compiled into a sheaf
of unplugged luminosity
found only by taking a wrong turn
your beauty becomes metaphorical

Contributor

Barry Schwabsky

Barry Schwabsky is art critic for The Nation. His Reader’s Diary is published weekly at Tourniquet Review, and his new book of poetry will be published in 2021 by Black Square Editions.

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The Brooklyn Rail

SEPT 2020

All Issues