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A chipmunk scurries up the porch rail,
then falls to the leaves. In the smoke bush,
set against its reddish hues, a goldfinch,
too momentary to study fully. The news
says a black hole closer than any other
has been discovered. It’s hard not to see
everything these days as prophecy, hard
not to hear a rooster crow and not wonder
how many betrayals are underway. Which
devotion, which long obedience in the same
direction, can equip us for an apocalypse?
Nietzsche said all moral values would be
eclipsed. There may be no syntax leading
toward insight, much less joy or comfort.
A passenger unwilling to accommodate
others is ushered from a plane before it
takes flight. Online comments defend his
outrage. What would an oracle say now?
Isn’t every moment a crossroads where
someone else is slain? To what ideas are
we wed? Light refracts through diamonds,
a church window, and water in which
a prisoner is held under just long enough.
Sometimes sadness paroles no one. Trash
defines one street’s placement in a town.
A vapor trail isn’t always a sign of assault.
Mole trails remind us how uneven a walk
can be—visiting a neighbor, checking on
fallen limbs. A better version exists of
every painting we’ve seen. The Cherokee
built an underground city but now exist
along a thousand-mile trail misnamed.
I have few thoughts not about eternity.
Even a vowel’s inflection in the middle
of a word sounds like a resurrection.
Dusk-dreamed orchids deepen their blues.
Leaning closer, listening toward a word,
I’m sure I’ve leapt from my soul seven
or a thousand times. Somewhere, language
is weeping is just a thought I tell myself
on certain days—not every day—a thought
that must use the same language to say itself.



Jeff Hardin’s seven collections of poetry include Watermark; A Clearing Space in the Middle of Being (both from Madville); and No Other Kind of World (Texas Review; X.J. Kennedy Prize).



Photo by Thomas Tucker on Unsplash

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