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© 2005 Clay Weiner


Poetry by Sheila Black

Why should I imagine this is a song I
know how to sing, except that I know what it
feels like to long for the rush
up the veins like air in your hair in a
speeding car and the way the sides of the road
loom and careen and how tobacco
smells soaked into walls and couches,
the oiled light of the lamps,
and the chill of the desert night pressing in,
how that fug of decay can be golden as
bourbon, a taste to slake the thirst
you didn’t know you had. And we like to
kill, something in us likes it, the jolt
of iron on the tongue, the fist of the heart
stuttering, catching. And beneath that
the stillness of knowing that we should be
able to love things as they are, except
we can’t. And so we drive the night
looking for the thick-syrup fix that will ease
the muttering of the cells, the mind
turning over and over, in on itself.
River we call it, the art of
forgetfulness, fine feather on the spume
of the breath. Like a kid walking a curb
as if it were cliff or cliff as if
it were curb. What we hunger is the fine
carelessness we only arrive at sideways, as if
we could dance between this world
and the world of objects which lies outside us,
the forever stillness--ebony, the hollow
of the vase, the shine of light on
sand, dream of long silence.

§ § §

Sheila Black received her MFA from the University of Montana in 1998. She has had poems published in Poet Lore, Willow Springs, Redneck Review, Blackbird, Heliotrope, Disquieting Muse and many other journals. She was the U.S. co-winner of the Frost-Pellicer Frontera Prize in 2000, the Ellipsis Prize judged by Stanley Plumly in 2001, and the Editor's Choice Award from Heliotrope in 2003, among other awards. She lives in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Reprinted from Ink Pot #5; available now

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