V  P  R

Contemporary Poetry and Poetics





I'm sending you this urchin for a reason, Smoke.
It's a delicate creature,
                                   depending, of course,
on luck and tides and the gulfstream to take it

into warmer waters and settle it down in its purple
and prickly skin
                          to live a deliberate life
and not have to fake it.  What you cannot see—

it was airy and empty and bald when I found it—
are the prickles,
                          the spines that surround it,
the force-field of nettles it needs for protection

but which make it appear that almost anything,
regardless of intention,
                                     is bound to a certain
distance, or pain, or rejection.  What you have

in your hands is that which remains, the skeleton
scientists call its "test":
                                     a delicate shell,
an empty chest.

© by Mike Chasar


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