Mar 032016




What we call the soul
the space between out there

& in here—a life
cut itself in two gradually

joins in the middle, a beetle clung
to the grid of the wire screen

clicking merely flesh—



No experience song enough
like the warm skin of peaches
what we’re marked by
light or the ground beneath
an arcade of trees
holds together precisely
a world neither of us can move



As bright as each of us stands below the sparrows’ gifted

noon, our being here nothing but time’s abrupt

dissolve however swallowed—I ask you

remember for me how we are able to heal from

everything that pains us

wore down to desire

paid heed—what makes us more aware or grateful for

rain-soaked streets no more vanished than

youth’s certain toll—distance drawn out

over the hand come to rest on our shoulders

replays the handsome music we carry to the dogs—



If the dead cry out our memory’s voice

thrown down on muddy banks the river itself

skirts, if washed over stones the son recovers

the father shook to rage the son’s smallest song

lay under, say something, said was it light run

over us the way to the greenhouse, was it light

inside goodbye, old stones and the flowers

push their breath through me, went cold

the way it would feel asking for more than

my gorgeous scuttle beneath him, hid

behind rows of elms he planted further from

the roses along the old bed, if the earth was soft

enough, if married his hands, if it was winter

ended through the clear air I could hear him—



The earth turns along the scented irises
along the birches the body moves
nearer the fire in a deep grove
a kind of music each ear bore with it
our hiding our spit our having known
more than evenings sailed against our ribs
other bodies not us against the full light
a mangled bird raises her one speaking wing



A morning difficult to walk across
the slain crocuses a song
or a silent movie
a memory of a wound
floated out to sea
at the beginning of the war
the fields covered by searchlights
at the edge of a garden before we were born
the shades drawn against
what shook the walls of the house
while the soldiers played cards
moved farther away from the coast
the lid rolled closed over the keyboard of a piano
the facts of history which we do not believe
for a moment we are among friends

—Kenneth E. Harrison, Jr.


Kenneth E. Harrison, Jr.‘s poems have appeared in Cutbank, Denver Quarterly, Drunken Boat, Pleiades, Sukoon, and other journals, and his essays in PopMatters. He teaches writing and Literature courses at Webster University and Florissant Valley Community College in St. Louis, MO.


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