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We see these Edens in the world, believe in them.
                              —William Bronk

Tonight, nothing will be exemplary. The repetition
of earth’s imagery, beyond all
change, is beautiful.

Armed with knowing, my son will leave soon.
I am on my knees in the backyard,
consoling the dog.

Above me, the dying light lets its three bats go
unstraightly off into the growing
static of stars.

I imagine the lie of their light shining over a jungle
I will never see. I imagine
small mammals

tonguing nectar there, gathering starlight
into the bright tapestry of their sight.
I see them only

in my mind’s eye, and they can never know
with what reverence I long to behold them
truly. I am so broken.

Are they diminished unseen? A bat’s black passes
blacker against the dark, is jerked away
between stars,

an oblique intercession. My vision of nothing
is my right damnation. Those times
when I am absent

in the world, full-present in the void where nothing
begs remembrance, a snake skin sloughed
in a bramble.

My ideas are wrong. However terrible it is, forgive
the world. A truce is possible, a tolerance
that has no place

in the actual world. It is why I have nearly forgotten
the time at that Eden, when I, too,
drawn by desire,

walked out into a new reality and looking aloft, saw
the matter of it: stars are flowers.
Pick any one

and say, dwindling flower, without knowing your name,
I know you, for tonight’s true example is
that nothing

between me and the ghost-light of stars is a space
with no shape to occupy. And that nothing
requires our belief.


A Summoning

All night from the outskirts the coyotes unfurl
their shrill counsel I have heard

the shine of their eyes
where mine can only whine anxious
into the dark
trying to remember something I cannot

remember something was it their first name
perhaps the last people to speak it
have wandered off
into a moment the moon blinked

coyotes speak of this
of everything but only once I wake

late in the dark I hear my blind ears panting
unable to follow their song
into the eyes I stopped seeing in dream

they asked me to come to them I went
wide and quiet past that place.  


Joshua McKinney is the author of three books of poetry: Mad Cursive (Wordcraft of Oregon 2012), The Novice Mourner (Bear Star Press, 2005), and Saunter (U of GA, 2002). His work has appeared widely in such magazines as American Letters & Commentary, American Literary Review, The Antioch Review, Boulevard, Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, The Kenyon Review, New American Writing, VOLT, and many others. His awards include The Dorothy Brunsman Poetry Prize, The Dickinson Prize, and a Gertrude Stein Award for Innovative Writing.