the rivers of it, abridged

New York City skyline at night


Fall 2008



Thom Ward

Gruff Passage

Winter won't give itself over to spring. You can't
take the maternal out of the whore. Even she grasps
how right it is to kiss a child's head, again and again.
Ideas come to us, we seldom come to them, and some-
times we start singing upside down. Invisible trolls
smash old radiator pipes with their invisible hammers.
Hello to the firelight in scotch, goodbye to the smoke
in whiskey. Though sincerity is much overrated,
bullies never shut up, especially when they're scared.
The couch in my shrink's office continues to bet against
me, and the bank plans to mortgage my shadow.
Travel Sunday morning in Saturday's shoes: recall
how the weight of that leather will outlast us. Among
this disturbed balance, who really needs the weather.


Goldfinch, Cockroach

Once in a while my soul exits this body,
goes shopping for another house of flesh.
Giant sheets of ice north and south of us rip
from their moorings, crash into the sea.
Those with the most superfluous gadgets
cast the longest silhouettes, but not enough
to thwart ultraviolet rays. For a dollar the drunk
outside the corner bar will share fantastic tales
from the captain of the ship in the bottle. Yes,
that's correct. Goldfinches no longer visit
our garden, and the cockroaches have a new king.
My soul is a fickle shopper, rummaging through
clearance sale bins. What you didn't do, what I did;
at the end all we can hope for are the right regrets.


Petites Dents, Petites Pattes

The language has always been smarter than us.
It slinks, pounces on invisible mice. Waits
by the bowl just recently filled, looks up
and stares through you — its tail curling
into a question mark. Each moment
another chance to nap, for it to assume
what it rests upon. Or so you think. And
who can think beyond the language?
Who doesn't yearn to say — cat — without
the cat itself? Go ahead, keep collecting
those pieces of yarn, rubber-squeak toys,
keep changing that litter box. No doubt,
your god is a stranger. How quickly
it disappears when the stranger arrives.



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