No. 10 - 11


Shelley Kiernan  

Tenth Planet

A little more is seen and a little more,
but always beyond our words for it,
barely sun-lit and orbital,

and the countervailing smaller forces,
moons, instinct, ants that trail all day
along tongue and groove of wood.

You wake up again on any morning
wanting the reddened yellow skin of nectarines,
shoulders’ muscled indentations, and then,
in a whole new constellation
of suspended desires, renounce them.


Perhaps you have been waiting so long for
something to happen, time’s 
the feel of a primordial forest; light,
if it reaches you, dim, particulate,
stirred in the little wind there is
a pungency of pine spores, only what
sinking can make its way through layer
under layer of leaf.

There are fables, all predicated
on rescue, where someone comes to
bring you back to a clearing
or, in the second life, shiny, pneumatic rails; none

is to stay there with you. Unworldly—
but this is the sky under water.


It was a confusion of era or place
sometimes when they talked:
she dreamed herself slowly of wintry
snowed-over monuments or of nothing. In sleep
when he taught her
her eyes spun in dry whirlwinds of sockets,
a cartoon grey hurricane light
whipping with leave-
and with wing-shapes.

                       I woke because
I wanted to see it. If you spin us and spin us
faster, it may too soon be over.

Countries of the Lamp

I am not an artist. When I speak to the lamp, nothing,
not a drop, not a drink, of light.
Night came white moving trucks to take it all away.
Birds revolved around the love letter, cobalt shapes,
indigent or clear. He looked at her mind occasionally
throughout the day; she rubbed her cheek
against his gray beard. If it weren’t template, a song,
why the dart, the swerved rhythm,
implacable eye of mind? 


Stygian, the blue
of Galatea. What contract

did we stand under,
smoke of stars settling,

to be in doubt together.
Bone dark faces of caribou,

we carry gilt mirrors, black letters
crossed out

moving backwards. It is a carnival of two.
He is positioned

a step behind, she
faces her portrait. Ephemera rise

out of the chest’s bottle.
Midnight and aubergine waters.

The sun in the mind
is a tomb guardian, candled.




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