SPOTLIGHT: What We Do To Make Us Whole by Christina M. Rau


We meet in coffee shops
and on milk cartons
missed messages
mixed over time.

Always, in all ways,
we light it. There’s
never enough dark
for us. For them.

Secret codes wither—
we wear only skin.

Clear is the color of wind
like missives left
in the dead letter office
unknown to sender.
What they say matters
only in previous calendars.

We used to meet in parks
and hallways
sentiments garbled
even with cipher in hand.

It’s never been workable—
a late too late
word at the end of a whispered

Once it meant something—
that once could have been now—or
now—though now—and even now—
we plan to meet at beaches and
on boxcars near jailhouses
behind aisles under aqueducts.

We could, still, but, well,
will is the word that doesn’t
act as a verb here.

The Luck

We found each other to
save each other and how
lucky is that, and luck
means not. It’s that
danger of savior-
ship, the what seems like
pulling up actually
a dragging down,

a blur of self in the way that
could be romance but in
reality is a relief a remedy
a really bad idea.

Love is a drug the body creates.
Imbalance of brain
and sky.

We twined together a line,
braided up and tethered
to a bedpost. Then no one
could split a life.
Then what is a life

in the morass of a home
Four walls. Fresh paint.
It all seemed so dreamy.

Quick Memory

eyes drooped
ache in an ear
love that time three
years ago. when the train
came and the body
gave way.


The log read Panic
more than once.

In that mode
the insides cry out


with blueness in a
a midnight shade

false futures.
Growing hot spinning

a whir a means
to no end.

Never an end in mind—
no mind, a thoughtless

board circuiting dis
connected from it

self minute by min
ute break


Anxious only.
Bundled of wired

nerves. Refuse slow fade.
Cut to over and done.

Bedside Note

anatomy of touch
apparent retrograde
in motion we are all
influenced by going


Who says we can’t go backwards,
that the past is in the past,
doesn’t really exist?

I’m not talking nostalgia. I’m talking
plugging in the turntable, slapping down
the soundtrack, and dancing in the kitchen
from wall to wall without closing the blinds
with eggs burning on the stove.

A quick turn a simple flick
when the now fades
coasts over the recent
and everything becomes the deep dive.

We fall back against soft fitted floors.
They cave in.

That Be in the Now. That Look to the Future.
There’s no proof in that.
There’s proof in back then.

Back when we were
strong hard bodied white toothed
fifty cents in pennies in a pocket.
We had fringed suede and click
clacking gum.

The only speed was rapid rumble.
The only time turning almost dark
in the heights of a summer.
Only no work and all drive—

miles and miles beside wet lights
beside ourselves

hand in hand in hand in hand

criss-crossed under sparklight

Broken broken broken broken
but still going going going
dragging it all together:

the burnt smoke the bare feet
on tile with skin becoming calloused
and rough but only because of cement
underfoot days on end and then
asleep on blankets under stars

wondering about wonder
without worry of waiting.

It was always being.

It’s always been being.

A fast fought effort to
rein it back rope it back
a sway back
back back back
to a beat to a finite number.

One tiny granule. Put it in a jar.
Poke holes in the lid.
Carry it. Care for it.
Let it breathe let it live.
Find it glowing alive.
For air.
For every fucking breath,
every time we must be brought
to here to now—
every time we must look ahead—
for every creeping moment creeping
away from back when—

Take it in close.
Revel in its rapture.


All that time under anxiety
to plan exactly how an uncontrolled
future will go. It doesn’t exist.
The only existence is now and now.

Right now is not going as planned.

The lack of Plan B, also a hindrance.
All that time of only one plan
a future impossible any other way

but now it is another way
and those little jolts inside
make painfully clear
this is not the way it was supposed to go


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