by Kristaps Tomass

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Less betrayal—

when you’re waking, and below on the street
the coffee-vendor is taking his cigarette break
and looking to your open window

and you are looking down at him
and taking your clothes off again.

It started this way,
when you came in from the rain
and lay abed five nights feverish,
calling out each hour the names
of your many prior lovers

til settling on mine
on the fifth day—less
the significance of so many days,
than the fact of the last,
the moment of calling,

though you didn’t include
the coffee-vendor’s name
yet, but also

not quite my own,
lipped instead in passing
as the disembodied call of fowl
flown the pines by my window.

Later that week I ran
each name over my lips—as it were,
the five days’ compendium
or the résumé of your acquaintance,

taking, at each syllable and variance
what, if can’t quite be called delight
nor quite despair

is surely reprisal, which is only
another invocation of love-unreturned, grey

as shadow under up-lifted wings;
as if, walking among the pines,

I would be struck individually
by each falling branch

and the sound of each displaced wren and starling
became inflected to question, who?, if not
rendered as weapon,
then becoming so
regardless our genuflection.

Less pardon
than each passing of day
and each numbered hour,
the shape of her stilted body at the window
seeing reflected not
quite what is seen from beyond, names

upended over our guttering desires,
men, birds
of prey, the awkward obeisance of evergreens
under weight of snow.  Silence

is not a means to an end, not

Kristaps Tomass is a graduate student, for the time being living in Sweden. He hasn’t published for years, but keeps reading and writing, admires modern poets, their means of expressing familiar motions in entirely unfamiliar gestures; aspires to do the same.

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