the rivers of it, abridged

New York City skyline at night




Barry Wallenstein

The Killers Again

The boy, now a man,
raised on barbed wire avenues
of lonely city # 3
or blasted city # 4 —
worked himself bloody-handed
out of one flat into a larger one
curtains and flatware
and then to a suburban house
drapes and china
and then a larger one with a yard
and a boat up on blocks
and so on up the ladder of corpses
and each time now
his hands are cleaner.

Omit the acts of grace
that hide in mortuary pockets
and risk the distance place to place.


Items of the Grave

this man, near to his end,
glimpses the rise up ahead
and cries out: all this must go down—
the clean suit they'll dress the thing in
pockets empty of cash
the botched memory—
the failure to spell in any language
the chipped tooth just off center
the deformed arthritic fourth finger
on the left hand clenched —
the fear of losing —
gold and silver fillings too,
let them go and the fear of falling —
let that drop with weight —
fresh soil on it;
bury the scorn — the unreason
and the idea of dates in time —
shove them well under.
Entomb the vain rational.



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