You Keep the Marvel Alive: Three Poems

Originally published on

Surrender the Life

It isn’t you behind the veil that your mother wore so well, that keeps the flies away. It doesn’t succeed in hiding your porcelain face, in the way that lace inevitably masks

only a portion of one’s vision at a time. This
variation, this betrayal of ancient melody
is out of mind, but not out of rhyme, not yet,
not entirely. Time rolls away with precision;
a craftsman’s greatest work doesn’t creak

or snap from the increase
of pressure. You, however–you knob along
in large curds. You belong two-hundred feet
from where you stand, no matter where
your seat. Here, he says, lifting his

comically large white candle, light the way.
You have already ballooned. Twice, now,
you have clotted your way out of a promise.
There are hearts in museums less gunked-
up than you. Still, we only catch the faint

brush of light from your tear as it appears
and then vanishes behind the knit rose
dancing in front of you. The tail behind you
is endless– it thrusts you forward, into
a molded life of pointed windows and pain.

You asked for a fast catastrophe, for a kiss
that lasts decades. That vow is bone-
dry and left half-buried. White flag, I wave
to you; when your colors finally bleed,
they will turn your lips a very serious pink.


What else could be said here –the grass is kept short, the old gutters clear as quick rivulets, dishing out rust in flakes to the fish; vacancy is more

than an empty word. This crispness,
this color of ether, meandering from
ripe to rotten, fills your open mouth
with laughter. You can feel it coming,

that approaching sterility; from what
prehistoric land does it hail? When
primordial birds, legs like helicopter
blades, toppled over the rolling slopes

in search of larger, more useful arms;
when bees were not quite as small
as these? That one surveys the abandoned
house, abandoned, not by him like we thought,

but by children who had outgrown their taste
for snails and butterscotch. The deepest, most ancient
metaphors are much like this; a moment that is
only a moment, and only for a moment.

It’s death means nothing to the blue
and luminous sky, even if it means a great deal
to you (and your honeyed, hopeful eye).
You keep the marvel alive. You see magic

in the lowest of places. You always double-
knot your long, brown shoelaces. There was
a good reason we gave this place a name,
and it is a miracle we have not forgotten it.

Only in other languages could the word
“dirt” sound so beautiful. Be prepared to go
mining when chasing a dream, for they lie
buried beneath us like ancestors and ingots.

If gold is coveted, it is not because of its sheen;
it is due its natural inability to rot. “Please, do not
step on the grass.” “No diving.”
—this is how they stop you from living.

Second Skin

I watched the bickering vultures scatter awkwardly from the carcass that remained, half body half snow. I slid into its open torso, filled its limbs with my limbs and its face with mine, and I walked behind the scavengers like the ghost of a family meal. After twenty years of tasting blood in every sip of stream, the soft mound finally took hold; I had vanished behind the eyes of a frozen beast. I bayed, I bucked. I twitched my ears at the sound of snapping twigs. Nature had taken the inedible and swallowed it whole. I grew tired of aimless rotations. I fell asleep in a quiet place, and soon the bouncing buzzards returned to rip me out through the belly and leave me there, half body half snow, for some other creature to call home.
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Lovely performance, held my attention, a good flow, a good feel. I will
read them again.


Hey all, transmissions received, thank you johnnydavis for the kind review. This was my first public submission in several years, as I have been away (physically) from my old writing crew in Bloomington, IN for some time now! It feels great to get some work out in the world again. Thanks for the opportunity, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed looking through the conversations and pieces on the site.


Amazing imagery. I will bookmark these to read again

Well crafted poetry tends to be an innate musical experience as well — and it is this music that carries the reader along. And in the three of these poems I can certainly hear the music. Excellent.

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