The Innisfree Poetry Journal

by Alec Hershman


for Willie X. Lin

Rivery, obliged to swell, we saved

our compass-thoughts for dawn:

a church’s snow-mute roof,


the steeple like a needle, and the right

angle of its shadow. Cream and age

played lightly on our hands


to remind us of a difficult task we would not

indulge with our attentions: as in a dream,

the birthday card we had to sign


lay in a shallow pan of water, our wishes dulled

by the words for them. We felt oblique dismay

as when seeing turtles breathing terribly


in similar confinement overlapped. Just when

the eave-most continent falls to the lawn’s

erasure, we feel possessed of a carefulness


not used in time to spare the wingless things

impatience, but grounded too

by the notion we could rise.


Half Whisper

The purr of sugar

as it spills to the floor.

I can see the mice converge

on the tinkle and gush of news

like cash or scandal dropping.

This is how to empty the walls,

I thought, waking from a painted nap,

the stripe of sweet trailing me

into every room in which I worried

the rodents might reside. I moved

by hunches. On the couch I felt

a light solution—demeanor of puddles,

dream observance of wind. Then,

in the kitchen again, was distortion

on the range—silver allée

between simmering pots, and a corner

turned in my face. I like the fire,

better, I think, because he’s

the one here with me, not

the away one, invisible

to his very source.

I think too to say so

but the pots are hushing

and one of them spits. You’re

still here they say. It’s down

beneath us that’s the oven. You missed.




Painted were stalactites,

stalagmites. Painted was how

their curvy hazard was remembered

in miniature as the sedulous mouths of ants—

ants because there are smaller things

than mice that must come first. 

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