V  P  R

Contemporary Poetry and Poetics




They said they’d meet me
on the other side, under wet leaves
that hold the exact black of tar.

One man guarded a metal drum
lit with chopped particleboard
and telephone books fanning

like seagulls on a wharf. I wrote
the denominations on my palms,
kneecaps, ceilings I examined

from my back. As the train shot
past, one man shifted a handgun
while another spit-polished his

teaspoons and platter. Everyone
slept in the corners they could find.
A taxi flashed its wipers to the café

and nobody approached, same as
last night. There were things,
they said, to be carried. One man

had what he called a chainsaw,
but it wasn’t English. Twenty
years earlier, I was in a horse glen

counting strawberries with yarn
in my braids. There was a room
you fell into like a pool, it was that

empty, floorless. Malgorzata said
she heard sheep, even on mornings
when we sat at the card table

with coffee and flashlights. One
man had ropes and conduit in his
suitcase. They said it was temporary

and we believed them. The staircase
sagged like a dirty diaper. The door
was laced with locks like a soldier.

© by Mary Biddinger


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