Header image  
    Table of Contents
Tim Black

Above the Straw

He swings.
His arms arc
in a getting-ready-
to-jump rhythm.

From his point-of-view
the barn swings.
Rafters reaching down
like lovers to touch him,
the hay-strewn floor bobbing
like a cork with a caught fish.

A thin light
catches his cowlick,
and turns it to a hazy gold.
As he swings, his hair darkens
turns white, darkens,
turns white.

His whole body swings.
Free from earthly restraints,
but subject to gravity’s
motion he swings.

His legs swing.
Swing as if he were
trying to swing,
  and then kick
     as if he were
        trying to swim.



Darkest Archon

If he could grasp his heart through his ribcage,
he would use his last few coins to call his father.
Ache to press a hand against the sky, wish
for something simple as dolphins. The squeeze,
the earthworm’s flex and release has become
his crus. It runs beneath everything he
ruins. Have you seen gravel leave divots
trailed with raspberry jam like comet tales
on your hands? Caressed a capillary?
Convinced yourself it’s God? The universe
is a wheel, swift as the soul’s undoing.
In our feet, we know it’s true. Reckon the dead
and coax out a few more righteous bloodbeats.



The Moth Eater

She takes them in handfuls, whisperquiet
beneath her parent’s window, by the weedy
garden so moist it harbors ugly slugs
and clear-shelled snails. Parts her lips,
invites the dusty cloth in, pretends
there is no juice, no popping of bodies,
only the dust which turns to a paste
and runs in chalky rivers down her pretty
chin. Above her, an epidemic of light,
too warm to be the sun, to immediately
misunderstood to be of any use to her at all.



This is Not a Chant at All

If she had been born in Gethsemane, she would have poured
fresh strawberries instead of spoiled red wine.  She was
sure of this as the ring around her own white breast.  God,  

she assumed, could fetter even the milky way, charm galaxies
with a golden tongue.  If this is true—if turned soil is the point
of access and a point of cleansing for an earthworm—then sweat  

and toil must be the point of admission for a man carrying rubies,
must be the segue between heaven and earth, must be a savage
undoing, our admission to a world of wonder and bad memories.



Dear Doggie in the Window  

today I longed for you/a deeper longing
than when I was five/and I desperately wanted
a slingshot/or a whole pound of chocolate
or even the bracelet/I wanted to give
the blonde girl/who sat next to me
in kindergarten./you are looking out
on Harlem streets/gussied up with enough color
to turn ghosts to stone where they stand. 

isn’t it strange now/that I’m sober?
I cry for you/and what I think you see
as easily as I shed tears/for my father
who hasn’t even died yet./your nose
is where my hands should be/smearing
the glass with purple and yellow paint/
my breath fogging the glass/as if
I’d been eating steaming manhole covers/
and barking as though I’d been blinded.