the rivers of it, abridged

New York City skyline at night




Stephen Massimilla

In Pieces

Like a man who shifts his head
in the wind and spots a possum shaking
on a telephone wire, I'll let
my hair fissure the sky. I'll forget
that no swan makes my voice break
into song. I'll forget the child
with the face of a cracked egg.
And the cicadas'
empty shells. Last night,
the obsolete phone booth
in which I once called
for assistance was full
of shattered glass. Today,
a fraction of blue heron
brims above cattails: pretty, piti-
less. A sheet of cloud in a fork-
lift of storm. Morse dots of rain
on blades of turf. Through
the camera lens, my bloodshot eye
takes a shine to mirror-fish
in the choppy pond.
The man is cut out of the picture.


At Capri

In grey-blue morning lit inwardly
by overlooked light, I wish, O sea,

not to live forever, but I do want to take
my fill of you, a long lascivious look.

Wings that list in the wind past
the hydrofoil sluicing airy distance. Feels the way
through porticoed sunlight, a man espies
the sheen of a nude

lying loose on silk pillows. He hears
scrannel cries of gulls feathering space
over peach and rose sun-up glancing
in cold mirrored shells

of the Emerald Grotto.
Simmering brilliancies—however touristed—
are like eels, waves, wicks dipping in a million
minds arriving, sparking, or gone.

Even the most local intimacies
which no visitor ever notices are requited

by the sweep of these waters, stroke
after stroke of mist-marking distance,
flour-sack sails, moon-colored coves.

Drifting down past these cliffs,
fresh breath of lemons, salt, and cypress wood…
Before your conquered and conquering rocks,
my flesh, right here.

Here and forever with empty arms,
any man's ocean-crossing longing.


Resolving Differences

Not that you excluded me
but that you might not have gone
so far as to include me,
…but having said this,
I have made much more of it
than there ever was.

I said I didn't want
what I didn't know
I did: I had it on my mind to the extent
that I did not look for it.

It was your conception anyway.
You had it first, or at least
you had it more. I mean
you'd always read my thoughts
before I really had any.

Not that this was a habit
you were aware of having formed
but one that you became aware of
at the moment you sensed
I had broken it.

I can't reach a conclusion until
I see it, and I want
to see it.
You be my eyes.



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