Michael Lauchlan



Across the street from your hospice,
your last rented room, a woman
has bought what we once


would have called a chaise lounge
and is unloading it in the brilliance


of her driveway. Her marigolds
bounce the light toward a window
where I stand as you drift off.


When I turn back, you speak
as dreams pass through—


directing perhaps another play,
letting the First Player’s voice
revive Hecuba’s titanic grief


on the day of a world’s end—
and I hear how each breath


is unlike the next. A dream begins
to stir in my own brow
and I slide toward the door,


leaving your slow hours
to reenter a metropolis of work
and traffic, so quick and bright.



We are bodies of broken bone

—Thomas Merton (via Bryan Stevenson)


Beside a pick-up, I’d drain
a steel bottle, water
chortling down my throat like
a wave sinking into sand


as a thousand miles of contrails
puffed themselves into view
where a drunken raucous light
had stretched across the west.


I didn't know that I was young
that we are, all of us,
badly set bones, all
subject to our crude idioms


and the small, sad vista
stretching from a mound of dirt
we spend our days crossing.
I only knew how saws


tore wood into usable shape,
how board and beam and joist
held shingles, held rain
at bay and framed a house


I loved to wrestle a day
to its blazing end and then
longed to hold you by the waist
as dusk held the horizon.


We were caught once, mid-
kiss--me somehow hooked
by an earring, our ill-
positioned hands and loud


preverbal crossed imperatives—
each of us snared,
laughing, crying out,
pressing closer to pull free


until the spell relented
and breath returned. We
who escaped—no longer
so nimble—remain.


Something blows past--a raft
of swallows, a twitter of gnats,
a bale of cottonwood fluff,
or the wind itself, vacant


and occupied, ubiquitous
and incorporeal—a luminous
grand gesture
vanishing in bright peals.

Michael Lauchlan is the author of several collections of poems, most recently, Trumbull Ave. (Wayne State University Press, 2015). A new collection is forthcoming from Salmon Poetry. In addition to Innisfree, he’s contributed to many publications, including New England Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, The North American Review, Tar River Poetry, Rappahannock Review, Louisville Review, Poet Lore, Ninth Letter, Harpur Palate, Southern Poetry Review, Bellingham Review, Lake Effect, and (forthcoming) Briar Cliff.

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