Issue 2.6

June 2024

In This Issue:
Decay, Dust and Moths
Alexander Etheridge
The Kept Things
Devon Brock
Atoms
C.W. Bryan
The Ghost of Li Bai on Mont Ventoux
David Elliot Eisenstat

Alexander Etheridge
Decay, Dust and Moths
Decay, Dust and Moths *After Rolf Jacobsen* Under the bright hum of the city a green decay spreads. You can see its mossy reach behind the tired faces of those you pass. You can feel its black limbo between busy words on the streets, and in the staggers of drifters and lost mothers. Then everything slowly collapses as dust—it hides in the elements, in our DNA. It creeps in our eyes and in our minds, waiting for its day. It is the oldest kingdom—deep shadows hide its patiently advancing troops. Darkmoths wait at the city gates. Deathmoths come up through sewer grates. Nightmoths flutter in our bad dreams. From the empty temples of heaven, they fly in through our memories into our rooms at night. We hear the faded sound of freeways. We learn the great spaces of dust and decay. Gravemoths lead us down to our silent home.
Devon Brock
The Kept Things
The Kept Things I keep willow switches, knotted bits of string and fear, sharper corners of gum wrapper chain, and the long stuff of regret, coiled in a cardboard box, in the haunch of my closet, underneath my shirts, underneath my shoes. They are loud when I need them, quiet, when not. On some nights they shriek and pound and twist. But they have no teeth, no hands. What worries me is if I should burn them, or bury them, would I not soon be found sifting through ash, or spading out a grave with a spoon.
Zachary Daniel
Exhuming the Duct Tape Messiah, 1989
Exhuming the Duct Tape Messiah, 1989 *For Blaze Foley and Townes Van Zandt* I wanted you to have it, the guitar that had sat in every pawnshop from here to Houston. But folded like a penknife in my jacket pocket is the ticket to reclaim it, and I am wedged like a pebble, six feet under Texas clay, in a coffin sealed with six strips of duct tape, one for each friend that legged it from the little white church in Austin to the funeral south of Congress, past the last tendrils of Onion Creek. So when I heard the rumbling of the backhoe ripping up the dirt, the headstone extruded like a rotten molar, I knew you’d come to let my baby sing again. You’re the only one who doesn’t curse when the casket’s opened. *What? He smells better now than living. * The flashlight in your left hand turns my corpse as white as a holy relic. And before you leave that pit with what you came for clenched in your right, I hear you whisper *And I won’t forget to put roses on your grave.*
C.W. Bryan
Atoms
Atoms Between atoms there is empty space— My uncle pitches perfect horseshoes, many widows gather to watch him throw. Sunlight rests on the newly polished marble of headstones— Three stiff stalks of white roses lean slightly eastward. Washing your hands in hot water— Bales of hay wrapped in tight blue cellophane begin to hibernate until spring. An electric current runs through the walls of my home office— What is in between empty space? There is an immediacy to a handwritten letter that cannot be explained by words alone— My uncle did not always pitch perfect horseshoes.
David Elliot Eisenstat
The Ghost of Li Bai on Mont Ventoux
The Ghost of Li Bai on Mont Ventoux *[Li Bai] is said to have been drowned by leaning over the gunwale of a boat in a drunken effort to embrace the reflection of the moon.* @tab—Herbert Allen Giles, *Gems of Chinese Literature: Verse* Petrarch, you’ve dreamed of seeing to the edge of Spain: must you hate each step up the ridge? Cursing the briars, you pass the poppies by. Cursing the rocks, you snub the saxifrage. Three times, your flesh veers off like melted snow, and thrice, your spirit forces it to trudge back up. At last: the limestone crest. You turn, not to the Pyrenees but to a page of Augustine’s *Confessions*. Put it down! You seek your soul the way I sought the moon. Feel the mistral sigh through firs and beeches; watch the sun droop beneath the Rhône; sip Syrah and pour some out for me: I never let a poet drink alone.

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