V  P  R

Contemporary Poetry and Poetics




Out of empty bags and wrapping paper,
out of the split smile of the overripe
and dripping, out of quickness of lizards
and the long-legged walk of the heron
through fog. Out of hawk-flight, out
of dawn and into the shock of the cold
pond on the groin, and the lightning-
struck tree still thrumming and warm.

Once, on the long drive home from work
I watched an old man dance on the edge
of a bridge above the highway like
some God-stunned snake-charmer,
chin lifted eyes raised and lost beyond
all fearful calls beside and below—

the held-breath of the world caught
on a wobbly pirouette, a heel raised

over absence. There is so much you see
and don't when you spin like a torn leaf
—when you wish to step up into wind
and be lost above rooftops.

Surfaces reflect, refract and seem
to give. Until the window
fractures. And bone. But my son,

turning and flapping the bird-
wing of the body flung
from great heights, will not settle

will not come down until the wind
in his lungs blows singing out
of blood of breath of rhythm of now

and to hell with his old man anyhow.


© by Joel Peckham


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