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Adam Fell




And you collapse near a horse cart full of hay in a city

that is known for its medicinal properties.

The cautious leaves of the city’s trees only fall on

those who need to be touched,

its rodents only drag their food off to eat in deeper darkness

after they’ve made sure the starving are well fed.

But the bustling people filling the marketplace now do not live in the city

as you and I do not live in the city.

No one lives in the city because the city needs no one to live in it.

The city takes care of itself.


Every day people travel from the outskirts of the kingdom to visit or work.

Some bring goods to set up in their shops in the marketplace. 

Some take their place as the elders of the city, some as the clergy,

some take their place as the president and congress of the city.

Others are the poor of the city, the children in rags or splendid gowns,

the armed forces at strategic points, the merchants coaxing their wares into wage.

All these people come each day to inhabit the city because they need the city

and the city feels obligated to help all things it takes inside itself.

The city has designed its life to aid what must be aided

at the exact moment it most needs aiding.

If a person collapses, the lacquered walls of the city stretch themselves

and soften themselves to catch the poor soul who, having collapsed,

the city is plentiful for.

The city takes us in as its blood each morning,

and we gladly transfuse ourselves because blood is both plentiful to us

and scarce.


But when you collapsed in the recent past, near the horse cart full of hay,

the city did not reach out its walls or its gate men or its presidium,

though the city did notice you and longed to plush itself

and cup itself to catch you and heal the failing tissues of your body.

It yearned for contact with you and the contact you needed.

It cried into the cloth of its homes because it could not keep you safe.

It wailed its anguish into signal fires in its guard towers and its waters boiling in pots.

But the city had so many people to help this time

and it knew I was coming from its outskirts

and would be there in minutes to help you up and walk you through

the indescribable rushing of people trying to help all the hundreds of others

that one man had killed himself to make collapse

all at the same time on the street in the marketplace of the city.









We sit still together

on the darkest smokebreak bench


and do not touch.


We smell the burning of our own

particulate hearts on the air.


Smell the pine of them, the charred

last throats of our native grasses


brushing first against each other

as tentative wanders of smoke.


Devotion extends forward

despite our bodies’ failures.


But our devotion, our devotion

is a doused thing of crumbling glow,


its human insides camouflaged

by our blackout city’s quieting coals.





Our bodies can’t destroy everyone.

Flatness, green hills, industrial jobcenters.


Our kindled lives mint new,

cinder-glown, illegible.


We reach out,

post-traumatically quiet.


In the parking lot, we unfake our blood.

Roses spill, nuzzling sport utility vehicles.


The industrialpark ducks rile and resettle

the shore-sod with their waddling.


Near the darkest smokebreak bench,

we slow dance slower


so the motion detectors won’t find us,

so our blackout city won’t glitch us apart


like gull-plucked strips

of surfaced mother whale and calf.

Devotion extends forward

despite everyone’s failure.


The closed circuits chir and chir

from the dark of the corrugation,


but can not ashame us of ourselves.


We are coughing but alive.


We undark the dark of each other.


Our blackout city lungs

devoted in this moment


to our breathing,

to our breathing


in this moment


as one.

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