Today, we climbed out of the desert, from a base of hard pan, up jags of rock.
On the other side we saw the low sweep of basin, studded with juniper,
and a few bushes in meek flower.
Beyond that, our city, curtained in smog.
In truth, I never thought about thirst.
And I never suffered a vision, though my friends claimed, many times,
to see some strange machine, aloft, over the horizon at night, darting
They built fires to it, recited poems to it, and they talked, whenever
possible, about what I couldn't see.
It felt like forever. How each day I staggered through tent flaps to
conspiracies of dunes, and otherworldly weather, until even the broken
clay of my father's vineyards was no comfort to me.
Nor the raven cages and chained leopards in the markets, the hot
curses of the merchants.
Still, I can sleep. While, perhaps, an invisible vessel circles
above me, charting my dreams.
What it can make of those, I don't know.
But if it has come here from elsewhere, and if it plans to return
there, then it must go home with a story to tell.
Personally, I wish it well, sailing home, as it will, through illimitable sky.
And while I wonder if my dreams are valid cargo for such a trip, I
know from my travels that nothing real will help.
My money hurt.
Years ago I roamed
the streets of Toledo
with one coin in my pocket,
which I would never spend
but roast with matches
and toss onto the sidewalk
and slink back
to watch somebody burn
their fingers as they bent
to snatch it. One day a man
with a president
seared onto his thumb
lit a cigar from the bar stool
next to mine. He flashed
his scar and showed
me, holding the backward print
to a tiny fold out
mirror, the year this coin
was minted, and where,
and he told me
what he would do to me
if he found me, and
how much it was worth.
Gregory Lawless is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop. His work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in publications such as Best of the Net 2007, Blood Orange Review, Contrary, and The Cortland Review. I Thought I Was New Here is forthcoming in 2009 from BlazeVOX. He teaches literature and writing at Suffolk University in Boston. contact
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