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Temptation

 

 

is a cat which stalks the back alleys

of the heart.

 

is melted wax on fingertips.

 

is the moment of impact when a brick

hits a pane of glass, but before the shards.

 

is sometimes resisted, but never

the temptation to be tempted.

 

is a night watchman asleep.

 

is a frigate carrying spices from the orient

sunk just before port.

 

is the reflection of the horizon

in a glass sphere.

 

is the point where the shadow of a chimney

changes to the shadow of the smoke.

 

is a new box of crayons.

 

is best when it doesn’t have to be hidden,

and worst when acted upon.


Innocence

 

 

Despite the pain dandelions

are still picked

the golden flowers

that they are        prizes without

 

worth

                      mama had a baby

But weeds are just plants

placed

 

where they don’t belong

grass in the bed               flowers in the grass

 

    head popped off

 

reaped until every

dried crown is blown

                      each chin is rubbed

 

yellow                  you love

butter you love butter you love

 


Bone and Rag Man

 

 

I never noticed how tender the lining was

until the silver-white, breathing bone

poked through and accused me of neglect,

the splintered tip drooling marrow.

 

The unattached slivers of thigh bone

drew themselves upright, and stood

upon the table, where they carved initials

into the wood.  They asked if visitations

could be made to the mandible,

with whom they had a bone to pick.

 

The lining was torn at the seams,

and I searched for a needle and thread

to sew myself back up.  Bone makes

nice needles.  Bone slides through lining,

but there was more inside, looking to escape.

Sinew and stuffing, blood and feces.

 

No thread though.  I had the nerve

to pull apart the lining a little, to look

inside, to dig.  To pick at globules

of lard, wondering if catgut

were hard to produce.  How many miles

would I be worth?

 

Bone laughed and spit.  To mend

I’d need a better tailor.  There was sawdust

in my lap, straw tickled my intestines.

Leaning back, I placed my head

in the crook of elbow glass.  Flame-light

rose in the East.


Unlocked

 

 

She stood like Oscar Wilde speechless

within the cherry orchard, and blossoms

lilted down as if her liberated voice

had become a slayer of moths

and roamed the sky above us, hunting.

 

Hunger was expected where she

was raised, stone and cinderblock

were trees.  Flowers were torn

from wallpaper and hoarded.

The only wind she’d known had carried rocks.

 

The snow of petals covered unearthed

roots; she stepped with care.  Some things

were alike from that world to this, or close

enough to provoke reminiscence:

Robin replaced pigeon, cloud replaced fog.

Her quiet replaced a voice.

 

She dug for worms, she caught a fish

and then cleaned and ate it.  We taught her

how to pick meat from the cheeks,

and fry over open flame.  At night

the noise sometimes caught her,

the cooing of raccoons, or thunder

undeadened by tent fabric, which

widened her eyes and raced her heart.

 

I guess her shrewd wit was blunted

by the wind in the grass and the distance

of the horizon.  Could a stand

of hemlock become a Reading Gaol?

Would I have felt unlocked in her home?


 

Matthew Smart

Matthew Smart lives in a part of Michigan often overlooked by amateur cartographers. By day he works as an information technology analyst. In his evenings he writes poetry, fiction, and computer code. His writing has appeared in Vestal Review, Rawboned, Smokelong Quarterly and elsewhere.

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