the rivers of it, abridged

New York City skyline at night




Renée Ashley

Haunted Villanelle

You think you own your days and that you're fine,
but ghosts and DNA know how to find you.
The dead will pick your pockets every time.

You've argued and you've lost; now you're resigned
to finding in your daily bread the traits of one who
led you to believe you owned your life and thought that fine.

But you cannot win a war against the dead. You can't decline
to dream your dreams. You're screwed and can't unscrew.
It's nothing new: your dead will pick your pockets every time.

So you settle for those hours when angry bloodlines
and the hungry ghosts seem absent from your view:
they let you think you own your hours. That's fine

and almost dandy, but then something nasty and malign
will lift its head and you're left knowing that it's true:
the dead have picked your pockets one more time.

So you pretend to welcome them: you build a shrine.
You give up knowing what you thought you knew:
that you have to own your days and must be fine.
Until you're dead, the dead will pick your pockets every time.



Back to Poetry