Yosef Rosen is completing his M.F.A. in poetry at Bowling Green State University, and serves as Assistant Poetry Editor for Mid-American Review. His poems are published in Slipstream, The Chariton Review, Blue Monday Review, Gloom Cupboard, and Maudlin House, and forthcoming in Common Ground Review. Although he currently resides in the Black Swamp of Northwest Ohio, his heart and liver belong to St. Louis, and he can be found there during summers and occasional breaks.
Do not count
the length of every shadow, the filigree
of bubbled wax around the moon’s wide
Do not sing;
let the crawlspace
creak with the wriggle and scrape
of furred bodies; let their shuffle
carpet the midnight stills,
slow the tramp of numbered lists
within your head.
Do not soften your bread
heels in coffee. Liquids are ideal for holding
the shape of sorrow. Stop beneath bridges,
sawn-down sycamores where the sky feels
soft, unpinned, new skin stretched taut
and quivering across a cut. Do not drink
coffee at all.
Do not say ecstatic. Say consistency
of sand. Test the windows’
grasp of trigonometry and while. Start
to pause. Do not.
Foliate Heart / In Which the Heart Recedes
December is a circlet of broken
twigs on trampled grass, a scrawl
of fading chimney-smoke: by these,
we remember depth,
the cool tunneling of time.
The nights we are capable of
overlooking: too many, yet all
too few. Our days
a constant wavering,
a compass slow to find
Give us something new to take
the place of plants grown gangly and thorn-wild,
too studded with false
promise to safeguard within reach. Too full of piercing.
All spines are become hollow. They core
the flesh, serrate, yet
spear themselves with funnel,
the slick and thunder-score
of need. There is clavicle in every waking:
& Squint, half-afraid
of blundering past a familiar face that is not
familiar after all, but clenched
in frowning, a shrink from awkward gaze.
O muscle tensed and turgid,
un-vault your rage in four-part harmony,
the boil and hiss of kettle-burn
denaturing the wax between your slatted ribs
Do not slot your thrash and veiny beat,
an elephant gone mad with rust.
Un-wick it, let the unburned
char-less; let the cotton lace
your path from catacomb
to star-burnt beach. As you stoop
and trace this thread, touch nothing with your knuckles,
lest you desire hooves
with which to churn the earth.
Somewhere, there is a lake shrunk loud with choking,
the burbled hiss of cackling green
and purple fronds. Now come the counters
of organ walls and wired spines
and rings of cut-down things
disclosed by steel and bared to sun. Now come
the probing minds and neoprene. Inquisitors flit from noise to pulpy noise
with telescoped appendages of chrome and bottled light. O science
man, do not say, don’t drink the water! Say, drink all the wine
a beaker holds. We are alive
with fracture and wilt; we wild our skins and split-tongued hairs; tannin-score
the pearls we gum and grin and grind. Rusting radiators, we fill
our ribs with the pollen of our ever-molting
skins, and pluck interrobangs of jetstone hair from hidden groves, use the curls
to whisk and damp the doorways in a daub of bleeding iron
and tainted water, the colorless death within.