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Every Gravity

           for Gilles

We were young men. We wore white silk
undershirts and felt most comfortable humming

in front of the mirror. We slept in camouflage
pajamas our mothers gave us, let them talk

conservative talk until the skies erased
the day’s assumption & immediately

we thanked them for it.


The difference between us and the boys
who led girls back to cabins was negligible

at the morning’s dull edge. We made a sick forest
we could only die loveless to cure. The opposite

of trunk was stump. The opposite of desire
was night-soaked skin. Every morning we began

the slow transition into men. We were never without
protection, only slipped out of bed into night

to piss or change socks. Still, the night saw
everything the night saw. We could never keep

our secrets from the trees.


If one boy kisses another boy and doesn’t make
a sound . . . does he still fall, is he still worth

repenting the next morning? I need to know
the quiet night-prayer our bodies make

when together, how many trees we will lose
when the Nor’easters come & take apart

the bodies that most thrill them.


The heat of your tongue evaporates
mine without warning – one body summers

as the other winters. We know what is not
today remains around the bend. This is part

of the indefinite promise that keeps us
rootless, no matter where we think

we’ve rooted, no matter where that place is.


The Forest Called Human

is full of birds. Some open
their throats before I’m awake
to hear them. Others dive
and miss the stretch of tarp
by no more than a hair. Little
disasters never or almost happen
with every dusk. Without fail,
I watch Coleus take its water
to give becoming without regret
a fairer try. Sometimes, birds
drop their corpses where my head
is supposed to be. Others, the sky
cares and then un-cares at precisely
the wrong moment. Perhaps the forest
called human blooms and withers
whether we are ready to receive it
or not. When the next young boy finds
the still body of a woodpecker, he will
test its wings and run back to the trail.
Waiting for him to re-emerge, the sky
will scab with another dusk, and nothing
will dare rustle until he carries it away.


Peter LaBerge is the author of the chapbook Hook (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2015). His poems appear in Beloit Poetry JournalRedividerThe JournalSixth FinchBest New Poets 2014Hayden's Ferry Review, and Indiana Review, as a finalist for the 2015 Indiana Review Poetry Prize. The recipient of a fellowship from the Bucknell University Stadler Center for Poetry, Peter is the co-editor of Poets on Growth (Math Paper Press, 2015), the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of The Adroit Journal, and an undergraduate student at the University of Pennsylvania.