Staccato light
on water, a secret
language I try
at the edge
of a park bench
after shaping putty
into windowframes
all day, the world
with me like the ghost-
pain of an amputee
who finds he can
walk on the missing
limb. Stairs
creak as I climb
to an apartment
where the wash
and layering
of recognition
has begun.
Cooling at room
in liquid glass
bond and block
the light.
What chilled
and split us,
kept us


Relationship Difficulties

After two weeks and an equinox we walk
in tailored wool past a man in a plastic
suit waving then reading from a wand.
A burning where the nose connects
with the throat. We are issued
paper masks to wear inside the building.
Because no one thought to turn it off
in time the HVAC system spun
the pulver in. An aerosol prayer,
it surrounds us:  spectacles, testicles,
wallet and watch. At the end
of the hall is a break room
where places mid-air people
were coming from could be seen.
With more light from the south now
comes a species of uncertainty
compared to which asbestosis
is a safer bet. By Friday we’re leaving
the pretend prophylactics on our desks.
A holdout grows notorious.
Above a pleated oval
he sees us turn our backs,
then quits, as whispers mound
around him dark and soft as ash.


Dore Kiesselbach’s first collection, Salt Pier (Pittsburgh, 2012), received the Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize and contains work selected for Britain’s Bridport Prize and the Poetry Society of America’s Robert Winner Memorial Award. His writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Agni, Field, Poetry, Plume, Stand (UK) and other magazines. A 2015 recipient of a Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative grant and former U.S. Department of Education Jacob Javits fellow, he lives in Minneapolis.

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