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Lux:  Times  Squared

You might hirple down from Central Park
like windblown coupons for gentlemen’s clubs

or drift, apparitional, up from Battery Park
or rise in the crowd from the subway,
as if called by the pulse of taxicab horns.

But arrive you will, and stand on an island
on an island and isolate still
to see dusk recast into a neon canyon.
And you have seen lights like these before
in the shine of new coins,
in the gem-light eyes of fifth avenue,
once in the turbine flames of a lumberyard fire,
and once in the condensed eternity
of a lake-side Ferris Wheel
as it bloomed at the hands of lightning.

Not far is the first fire from this fire,
charged, mosaic’d, taxi-window faceted,
now safe in the gloves of  cable and wires.

Say you return in pieces now
your life lashed to lives that have fallen away
and given their shadows to stones.

Say all of your life is a losing autumn.

No cold church, no bridge, no stern harbor statue,
will work as these lights work,
and work and every day.

This, the hub and crux,
leaking fire like a molten cup.
In immutable, electric starlight, to everyone,

Look up, they say, look up.


The  Night  Watch

The purity of want, immediate
as fire, calls and calls distantly through sleep,
and meets me somewhere in my dream of her.
Before that somnolent bleat escalates,
blooms to a skirl of bagpipe, to a red-faced
locomotive punching the very air,
warping the tracks of sound, shaking out crows
from the drowsy pine woods—before letters
of complaint arrive from neighbors long dead—
I’ll zombie down the endless stairs to her,
her mother’s milk on my wrist like a watch,
her plum-heart tapping like a blind man’s cane.
            I’d say I was awake already, listening,
             and sleep, even if endless, is no distance.


Apostrophe to Wistful

Wistful, the belonging part of remember,
the kiss and the Greyhound
sighing closed, leaving town.

Wistful, the silent film
with Fond Regret and Pining For.

The petal-hand of goodbye
from a ship forever sliding 
                       decades away.

Wistful, silence is your publisher
and the vitreous pour of the moon.

Wistful, splinter-skinny,
you hardly eat a thing in your Empire dress,
disconsolate hair pin, Victorian knife—
you keep a dull shine like a scar


Apostrophe to Splendid
Splendid, a child’s dance
with an accomplished ending.
You, in the watch-workings of maypop,
in the small bells of clear drinks
on sherbet-cool porches,
or in any shine-happening in Charleston.
There, in the gloved hands of magnolia,
in the chanting bees’ vocation,
you are all French cuffs and cloche hats.
Splendid, you are two days out of the year,
a desert-flower-word, a certain peach,
a wren in the corvid sky.


Apostrophe to Brutal

Brutal, you drive careless and cruel before you,
            mean and un-sorry in your fur coat.
Brutal, you’ve a hog killer’s circumspection,
lizard indifferent, cold as demoted Pluto.
Brutal with your wolverine empathy, you tip the cauldron
over the parapet and tally dementia’s loses—
            this afternoon, this name, a face
            I thought beyond forgetting’s reach.
Brutal, shark-certain, the tedious axe
that cuts the mute root’s prayer.  


Eliot Khalil Wilson’s  poems have appeared in dozens of literary journals. His first book of poems, The Saint of Letting Small Fish Go, won the 2003 Cleveland State Poetry Prize. He has been awarded prizes and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, The Poetry Society of America, The Academy of American Poets, a Pushcart Prize, and most recently, an Archibald Bush Fellowship. He currently lives in Denver, Colorado.