the rivers of it, abridged

New York City skyline at night


Fall 2007



Ron Price

Boarding House

Approaching the door
along a path
strangers have tread before—
perhaps among them
one wore the coat I wear,
a second-hand rose,
stale, warm
against the cold.

How often I have fumbled
a set of keys
in the dark, the light
through the keyhole —
question mark
facing a question mark—
and after fumbling
to slip a key in the slot

the doorknob turns
as if that were an answer.

A Fable

The stone believed it was a wound
so it dressed itself
in the alibi of a man’s body.
Maybe a man could see his way in
to what wounded it, or why.
The man stood in a ragged field
and looked up at the sun
burning in the sky
like a coal in the mouth of Moses,
and the sun said nothing,
and the sky said nothing,
and the man answered nothing
with spit and flecked grains of sand.
The stone saw God hated what it was,
a chipped piece of his mute heart.
What it didn’t know was why
God loved the wound,
and the man’s body made nothing clear.
It was then the stone got bitter
the way a man gets bitter—
he drives away his wife and children,
his friends, incessantly bitching at his dog.
His kitchen blossoms into green spores
mushrooming on the linoleum floor,
empty pizza boxes spread over the living room.
The way a man can sit in bed
all night drinking vodka,
staring at the TV until he turns in
to white noise and snow.


Came the month of the yellow rose’s long death
cottages along the beach abandoned
the white sand gray

Came a blood moon waning still low in the sky
we stood moon-faced in the salt air
balanced on rocks between gulls and the scent of fish

And of the ocean we said nothing and to each other
we said nothing the sky the stars said nothing
only the waves the water said only the waves

Came the turning away we declined
into our bodies among sand crabs digging into the shore
she braided her hair in the French style

And I drank to those who know the moon is not bitter

from Ten Thousand Memos

Memo #6,439

The rotten porch step,
a man’s careless foot:
mosquitoes hovering
bloodless in summer heat.

Memo #7,259

for Loyd T. Benford

We’ll start with midtown,
Stack the derelicts in a heap
And burn them like books.

Memo #3,619

I have heard the cry of a hawk
haunting a field mouse
fled into the weeds of what it lacked

Memo #2,113

It is not the voice of reason, he said,
that brought us here to this bar
on the outskirts of a town
neither of us considered leaving
for longer than a couple weeks fishing.


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