Issue 2.26

The clouds are so beautiful

The clouds are so beautiful
like snow
like little pieces of white cloth.
I have to kill myself
but very slowly.

Облака такие красивые,
как снег
как маленькие кусочки белой ткани.
Я надо убить себя,
но очень медленно.

Ivan de Monbrison is a poet and artist living in Paris born in 1969. He has been published in literary magazines globally; his next book of poems Faceless /Без лица will be published in Russian and English this year. 

The Hidden String

When the house wakes, stirred by your dreams,
apply a poultice of figs to the inevitable bruises
long enough for the wasp shadows to heal
your uppermost layer. Left to long, it will glow
like a red-bulbed lamp and reek of something
painful long forgotten, so stay alert,
all the while doing your best to ignore the echoes
coming from that world where every last man
of status can light a match with just his thumbnail,
foregoing all other surfaces, no matter how unfair
that may be. Acknowledge each of them,
maybe even bow, and then proceed, flushing
memories as you go, until the bowl is as pure
as Rembrandt’s Night Watch is dark and enormous.
Oh, that scarlet sash! It deserves so much more
than Cocq can provide, especially knowing how,
just outside the frame, eyelids droop, hands lighten,
and wheels stray across the last metaphorical line.

All of this is just to say, really, that somewhere out there,
in a mustard-walled room beneath a steep flight of stairs,
there leans a cello armed with a thin hidden string,
one beget from the ectoplasm of prophets.

Kevin Grauke is the author of Shadows of Men (Queen’s Ferry Press), which won the Steven Turner Award from the Texas Institute of Letters. His fiction, poetry, and essays have appeared (or are forthcoming) in journals such as The Threepenny ReviewThe Southern ReviewQuarterly West, and Columbia Journal. He’s a Contributing Editor at Story and a Texan who teaches at La Salle University in Philadelphia. Find him on Twitter @kevingrauke.

Empty Growlers

Save one for silk flowers
maybe we will string
hydrangeas and spider
mums. They grin, incredulous,
gaping as if conscious. Sweating,
bitter I cling to contractor bags
with pasty fingers and unleash
a totemic purge. Once, I
wanted a wine bottle Christmas
tree, to string each cylinder
with white lights, balance
tinsel from reinserted corks,
scrape and scratch off
labels with razor blades.
Liquor bottles, tawdry décor,
ornamental celebrations of suggestive
toxicity we displayed atop
dusty kitchen cabinets.

Controlled Burn

Flames char the damp log as bruises
on skin—they boil, a melancholic
tinnitus, dull heat but still glowing
like humid rain, wet when it’s already
wet. Smoked eyes redden, I try
to light the fire. Lung-fueled coals
sizzle. Pine needles glued by tree sap
whisper futility. You called it a brushfire,
an autological pyre, Use the gas,
you said, the apex of failure, a cheap
eruption, as if at fault for brown moss
pillowing underneath, smearing
like paint in the pressure.

In Yellow Porchlight

Ravaged branches are riven like
dead skin. They had “become dangerous,”
my father muttered, and “the time
had come.” I didn’t have an
opinion. Time transformed me
into a guest, each brief return like
stepping into a small room in time,
and besides, in my memory, the
weeping beech tree was larger,
a childhood haven within its natural
brolly of cover, a residence of long-forgotten
games with long-forgotten rules.
And then my father grieved his loss
from a folding chair perched
on the stump still moist with life,
and he observed the unshrouded sky
for first time in years. What did he
see in those stars, the nameless echoes
of fluttering, hazy nostalgia within
the void of dream and memory? “I could
tell you stories,” he said. Sometimes
when the wind hits the backyard
just right, he still hears branches
creaking like a metronome.

Adam Chabot is the English Department Chair at Kents Hill School, a private, independent high school located in central Maine. His other poetry is forthcoming or has recently appeared in Sledgehammer LitWindows Facing Windows Review, rough diamond poetry, and Moss Puppy Magazine, among others. He can be found on Twitter @adam_chabot.