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South Wing

ISSUE:  Autumn 1989
Behind the fretted
Network of a wrought-
Iron grille, you

Stood untouched by
The holiday lights
Strung haphazard in

Admissions, a ticked
Synaptic flicker,
First in amethyst,

Then in flame.
Convalescent, blood-
Shot, unreachable,

You watched the
Freaky light motes
Flare against

The doubled panes
Twenty-four years ago,
And now, beside

Your tucked crisp-
Linened bed, you un-
Wrap a hand mirror

And look again
Past that figure
Drawn up suddenly,

As through a wide
Theoptic eye,
At that something

Going on inside
In ways the shocked
Brain’s weird

Illogic strains
To accelerate
And shelter.

Sherod Santos


Early days,
still vivid,
rich in detail,
like so many books
you find, already
underlined, and with
scribbling in the margins
in the beginning,
then trailing off
to nothing, as if
left unfinished,
or finished without
comment: things like
a corner in November
where you stood deciding
which way, while
the debris of the city
swirled in the street
outside the spotlit window
of a department store,
and the woven whirlpool
of the cornucopia spilled
its plastic fruit
and candy corn
at the feet
of the mannequins.

And standing there,
willingly lost,
a future ghost,
on streets that will never
be that new or strange again,
not even when barely
recognized beneath
the snow’s cold life mask,
or seen too closely
through a drug’s
heartless lens.

O for a glimpse
of the knowledge
that is years off!
That must be forming
even now, under
the litter of empty days,
the way, back then,
a molten slat of light
was forged beneath
the dead weight
of a locked door:
the crack of déjà vu,
through which the past
and future slipped.

Because maybe now
the future is colder
and at the ends of myself
there is nothing
I forget the loneliness
and hunger of that time
spent searching
for the body
that fit mine
like the other half
of a treasure map,
and remember only
a day in late November
when the city welcomed me,
letting go a leaflet
behind the bandshell
in Union Square,
and wandering away,

down windy sidestreets
where newspaper rays glided
over the broken hulls
of packing crates
and busted pallets,
and Styrofoam dunnage
spilled on the curb
like worthless money.


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