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Patty Paine



Everything thief,
long lament. Or worse, empty
cobblestone streets.

We tease songs from ringing
bells. Pray, merciful
current hold us
to this world….


I whisper a flickering
so you are bathed
in light.

Your hand’s a familiar reaching,
warm as a father’s shirt,
tender as down. So large,
your satchel of hurts.


Each moment is slow


We bury an orchid’s throat
in the riverbed’s cemetery
of broken glass.
You stutter a eulogy.
(leaf shadow/your mouth)


Swept into an abandoned church,
the bereaved make a chorus

of bones. All night
they sing: aren’t there ghosts
enough, aren’t there ghosts enough….

shadow, trace

in grief’s dumbstruck language
we speak only of shadow

broken-winged daughter
your mother
is the harshest soil

your mother is a clattering
of pills on tile

she is beautiful

she is everything
torn and you are her
memory’s weary seamstress

language me your body

ritual of ambulance and lies,
of poems that weeds survived.

family. wind’s broken
crescendo. the darkest tendrils.

father. silhouette of barbed
antlers, roots piercing dark.

mother. a flowering
of scars, endless
journey to a nameless
tapering breath.

every death turns father.
each body a thing
he sought caught

how thin the sarcophagus wall.
family of glass, of shadow.
the sweet land’s dying
and no legacy of light.

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