SPOTLIGHT: fishmirror by Scott Ferry

i can’t tell you

how to speak to your dead
i can’t tell you

how i speak to mine
(i shouldn’t be writing this)

the holy should stay holy
(all is all is all is)

yet if a timid child
(who was once a grandmother)

with abalone clothes steps close
enough to blow their floodname

near your ear
(dust sunswirling)

you may want
to listen

these february days

when the light barely shines from under the ground i still walk in the reverse windbowl of clotted air and sputtering spit in a loop around the abandoned school and the bronchial stems of chestnut and maple through the ghostcarts of the golfcourse through the homeless tents with tarps and broken toasters and rusted spokes and leaking batteries and burnsoaked logs and gatorade bottles filled with piss and a few raincoated bodies glancing at my scrubs and my mask my gaze a laser to the far end to the va hospital where i work where i used to touch people now i just blow air into phones and the voices chime back in their own caverns in their own fishbowls or scarred skulls and i help them with pain or prosthetics with something to mask the fire and something to attach to the stump so they may walk through the fire or the messy wetspit of wind through the xmas lights still swinging but no longer lit through spaces not meant for people with only one leg through a howling civilian world where respect did not return home through sheets of cellophane and pain gliding down fascia like blood on polyester and i hear their struggle to be polite through their breathing hard getting to the phone but some just curse just have lost a way to speak to children have lost the reciprocal notion of kindness or civility because they are in a straight hallway of daggers and meat and there are no words for thank you in the flanks and wrists which twist in knives so they just shout iamnotafuckingidiot at me on the phone and i say no no i didn’t say you were sir sir sir you could let me help you sir and some will soften like caramel in the throat near the end of the call some will give you a window or a latch into the lost person they used to be before back pain or amputation made every traverse across a room a siberian sahara of shardglass and ice and i feel the loss from the gap or pause between each word between catching their breath on their cane and i try not to be too cheerful but i always ask if they are ok even if they have to lie to answer the question but now i am at the end of the homeless tents and the last deluxe tarptent complex now flaps vacant in the gusts and the dirt teems with spray cans monkeyfaced backbacks bicycle pumps urine smell in the grass and one small scuba fin next to a fragmented cookie jar yellow with bunny ears and eyes that look into the cottonwood and blank static on the television of the sky but the man and woman and sometimes grandson who lived here next to the fencewire are gone either admitted to the hospital or to the jail or to the other blank white room which is nowhere and everywhere but i hope the child can still be saved can still be a child as a regret that isn’t even mine squirms in my mouth and it takes me half a mile to sneeze it out

good of you

a crow lands just in front of me on the blackwire
turns his beak sideways his opal eyes canine
he knows i walk here most days knows i eat an apple
knows i throw the core where it can be seen knows i have been
faithful to my wife knows i drink in silence knows the pills
that sleep the lack sweep the sheet clean
knows i used to speak to god and now

a crow glides down grips white flesh
right after i throw it down and i glance back
to give my respect but he is feast-rapt eyes deep
talons entrenched and i used to think i could speak to god
but now i just talk to crows and cottonwoods
and to the mists obscuring or retreating
and as i round the corner by the homeless tents a

flits up surveys me placidly at eye level
i say hello, god, good of you to send word
i’m glad your arms can still

when i was fifteen

i read seth speaks a book channeled from a discarnate spirit who explained to us living entities that we had conflated our realities from learned paradigms that our vision was mostly a self-jettisoned hologram not based on the real structure of matter but our prediction of what objects should look like from what we had been taught and the words which attached to joist horizon safety satisfaction marriage were airy puffs of dust from 1950s schoolbooks and then the next thing that started happening was the corners of my living room began to buckle into oblong rhombi and all the frames began to oscillate until i felt warmthick and disembodied like i could zerp open a ziplock and just exist in several vantage points in the room simultaneously the fireplace looking up the chimney the sliding door looking out at the calico cat sauntering along the fence up on the ceiling multi-eyed like a spider but then i got scared i trembled in the open air i snapped back to my dewey decimal notecards back to time
and straight lines and solid wood behind the drywall but i allowed the new pools to fill around me fountains of magnetic mercury lifting and falling through my form and it felt reassuring that life was not dry inside the joints but sloshing with chromosomal elixir extra nerves and vessels coursing into the sticky web prehistoric antennae shooting bendy straws into the full squirming sun

All lights are false suns

Lungs at night press down with reverse water. Spiders don’t spin the web that surrounds, yet moons hang in spoked sentences: orbs of light flushing dark. Cedar and fir, rhododendron sap sticking to the palms, to the legs. The narrative will eventually circle around the space where nothing breathes, eventually returning to the house as if nothing happened: missing teeth, ripped ear cartilage, seven hours of tracking.

Why begin? The person who speaks is not the voice, the sound comes from the space after the Antilles sink or the Caucasus foothills drop into false flatness. The road is the same either direction around these craters. Keep a journal, try to keep it linear, each drop slides down the wire, past the captured housefly, into the still slow hum of venom swishing in the skin. Write that. Look up as I am being wrapped in skeins transparent.

Did I pray for this? When did believing help? Unless the light behind the sun could glow through. Describe the origin with scratches on white limbs. What is false besides a misinterpretation, a dislodged rib, a denatured protein? Words cannot affix to these birch wrists. Words cannot fix.

it doesn’t look real sometimes

and i keep expecting the maples
and the grand firs to rip out of the cardboard
under the force of a moderate breeze
but they remain rooted in styrofoam
swaying like alveoli with the model-maker’s


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