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Andy Stallings :: Five poems


All the noise a brain makes
in passing. A period of
intensity, then silence. And
piled around me, the shadows
of my own hands and other,
larger hands. Having once
watched the movie in early
summer, I thought of it every
year at that time, though
every other circumstance
of life had changed completely.
A day on which you refuse
to speak. The strangers came
and went, while we stayed all
afternoon in the natural pool,
jumped from the rock lip
through the waterfall, into
that pool and the next pool,
my father white and flabby,
strange without his glasses.
The waking, working, distant
tempo of dream.


What was altered, ever, by
the stroke that aimed to alter.
Wherever a draft of wind
became constant, we noted
the difference and the speed.
The long perspective of
childhood’s quiet hours. Who
is old enough to know why
trees blow when the wind’s
up from Corpus Christi, or
how the sound of death digs
into a room. The question is,
who would need to know.
The crackle called dusty in
a record is not the recording,
but the record itself, the way
the stylus navigates the blemishes.
Familiar voices from another
room. Sudden melody.


The children assessed
the creature collectively,
charmed by its bold
chattering rush, then chased it
off into the juniper shrub,
leaving trails of food behind
for another, quieter hour’s
scavenging. Nothing in
the universe is delicate
at scale. If the cleft won’t
hold roots, it will hold lichen,
as bedrock makes way
for a channel, beside which
the low stone wall collapses
toward the cleft. Perception’s
no bandage, but broadens
the after hour. Endless imprint.
Memory aside. This castle’s
intrinsic, sorting slip wind,
slap wind, slack wind, slake
wind. See: the berry girls
have discovered a patch
of mountain huckleberry.
Nothing firm avails. By which
we know the gemstone from
the hammer.


Not outgrown: assimilated.
Practice for future habits or
habitats. Not that we weren’t
patient with her, as
martyrdom is patient with
saints, as the South “waits out
its racists.” Laws are as
loving. Each the guardian of
a loop that soothes its own
significance before your
sublime – like tradition, like
music, like loving. Harmony
with piracy. The willing hold
their pedal tones while we’re
nailed in the vacation rush.
The skin transmits a feeling
of perforation. A coin all shine
and no currency, a question


She took my hand but
looked away. Hotel is an
atmosphere that carefully
looms. We might as well sink
walls as wells, the depth of
either drops me, like rock
down the mountain’s face,
into dailiness. The present is
remembrance. How many
directions from here on out.
For every ten thousand lives
you see, and would prefer to
see, framed in the round-
edged snapshot of an airplane
window passing, there’s one
who walks perennially away
before you’re ready. How
long is not the point. The
words we share, like the air
we’re in, as full of light as to
wait, and to wait, and to wait.

Andy Stallings lives in Deerfield, MA, where he teaches English at Deerfield Academy. His second collection with Rescue Press, Paradise, will come out in 2018. He has four young children, and coaches cross country running.

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issue three :: January/February 2018