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The City of Subdued Excitement Endures Mercury in Retrograde photo


Elegy for my Undead Brother 

Imagine our parents as lovers, no, siblings, or—

I am reading billboards again: see a face
   that is not your face but is your face. Brother
I mean, lover, I mean isn’t this all a dream:

all saints have a past. All sinners have
   a future
. The letters entwine, seductive,
around the cross. Is this an airport-

church or a high-end strip club? I’ve
   been immersed in the lineage
of water bears again. Scientists have

been attempting to take a seam-
   ripper to your DNA. I tell them it is 21
years too late. I failed too (in

that, the DNA separated and you are
   no different! How is that feasible? I mean,
it’s like the children who are born predestined

to eat everything but protein— a preventative
   measure sure, but once you start the brain
deteriorates. I’m a natural red-head.

Hair color set at conception. I worry only
   that I am ascribing all the wrong opposites
to your mosaic language. Speaking of

agency, at conception my brother’s
   cells decided that they were not finch cells.
Not that there were any finch cells to sway

the conversation. We were never true
   finches— I was 14 lines in before
I lost my place. It isn’t your brain I had

meant to say. Or in your brain— or
   of your brain? (Or, it is— the nodules
of your being which is to say

you can’t fix what has decided it was not
   broken. Anyway… My brother is a blessing. I
must apologize for not being

the neurotypical one. We’re quite the pair, you
   and I— our folks hit a gold
mind. Mine. Whatever. It’s what people used

to whisper. Urban legend, pseudo-
   science, threats to quell young children,
itching, in the night. You know

where. You understand what I am
   saying. The most dangerous
place for a _____ is in the womb
. Don’t

say what. “Whuh”— a low owl-sound. I do
   understand, but never entirely. I tease. This
time I haven’t been digging a grave.

I’ve just been waiting atop this cliff for quite some time.



My dog is dying / everyday

I will see her less
                           + less

Please stop sending me text / messages
that ask me how
                           I am

If I had known I wouldn’t / have
                          with you

There isn’t a lot of / power
in saying my dog
                          is dying

My dog is dying My dog is / dying
Your dog is

Haha / why
aren’t you

It is cruel of me to say your / dog
is dying when
                          it isn’t true

I made the mistake of reading / Neruda
I made the mistake

it happened If you pour / milk
into your tea

is no longer possible Even in the / woods
I think she is just
                          ahead of me

What I really mean to say is she / died
while I was reading
                          this poem

That is a lie I am just expecting to / see
her around the bend
                          tongue lolling

as she runs into my / arms
No I am not
                          lying My dog is

dead Before you there were men / who
called my dog

But I don’t want to talk about you / anymore
even if your dog
                          is nice too

(Perhaps I should have been / wiser
not called her what
                          could call her home—)

I keep thinking she’ll come find / me
when I am lost In turn the you
                          becomes her—

Do you know there is fresh baked / pizza
crusts for you
                          in the afterlife

That the world is new + / nothing
but trail + lake
                          + ivy Your nose

is wet Once I pulled porcupine / quills
from your muzzle
                          + you licked me

You always wanted to be / near
even when I
                          was no good Even

when I smacked your haunch for / eating
a 200 year old
                          book— Left you

out in the rain because / I
was tired
                          of your nearness

+ your dreary whines / There
isn’t much I would give
                          to have

your forgiveness / or
that book back Just
                          know that

the forests are strange without / you
+ you are not gone but
                          only in the earth

The City of Subdued Excitement Endures Mercury in Retrograde

Steadily we become unholy. You have lost your status as omen, as reckoning, as superstition. Years from now, a misplaced nightmare. In a basement, magic uncurls from your fingers never to return, a poor roll on your part. Something about the natural is something about the divine: I unimagine the fissures in the palm of our hands—lost in the rugged folds of mountains bearded in pine. Your hand had never fully formed, a shadow made of lint & oil. Decades pass, divination is still predicated on how long a candle lasts, how long tea sits in a cup. Coffee? I never touch the stuff. I steal your tiger from the passenger seat of your car. An alchemist discovers regret attempting to concoct a panacea from foxglove & diet coke. It is always the poison you are drawn to, suckling nectar from rhododendrons, drinking water from the sea. All my hauntings are of my own creation— and you, you are a mirage, heat on the horizon. I return the tiger, nothing more. The night you hit me, I see what is smaller than a quark: I no longer want you.



image: Carabella Sands