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Erica Bernheim

CHICAGO DAY LILY

Left alone and watered less, it flowers
into the nightmare tarnished dreams I
predicted would come for me, too. Tender
me your loose change. Afford me purchase
of your maps. To grasp the centermost
spectacular of the lily is to think of the possible,

that this city misses you already, the expressway
of alleged serpentine delight awaits your ride.
This season allows itself the luxuries of clothing
askewed, seeing through these dirty tricks
we will do again and then once more. Prehensile
and filthy, the slickness of the nervous bulb

permits it to dream cyclically of the light above.
This genre of clemency is well-deserved, and
without it, we’d not breathe, humble Kansan
refusers of such a story. The absences are real,
decoys for a precious exit through soil that bleeds
hues of toothpaste and swimming pools, real

and missing. Sunshine is currency, vertiginous,
reminder of what we foretold this would bring:
predictable gestures, the nuance of the sound,
the grasping at whatever’s easiest, in front of you,
take it, best and worst decisions, like sadnesses,
linger too long across this hesitant deep plane.





FIFTEEN BEAUTIFUL COLORS


I. Four mornings in a row of dawns, reversed sunsets, greasepaint reflections of peril heightened.



II. Ash, scattered, tastes of care and warns of inter-mural collisions. Expected, their flat hues.



III. Speaker, formulaic, blends all domestics into hard-won remainders like salt and rock salt.



IV. Lights at their brightest are the first to be extinguished. Six tickets rigged. Stained clandestine yellow.



V. Signals, misfired. Cornflower becomes alabaster, what voices scrape the self-professed neutron into action.



VI. Sweets, water, rested and longing for motion, the completion of the voiced projections: picture, abandon.



VII. My love, this journey and you have worn me like a jacket, like bluish seams erased and easily worn out.



VIII. Comfortable lead, pulling from center together, narrow as spit rope. Forty bowls, none glass.



IX. No one cares for the plights of the professionals, their amber sweat, their safety is what this does for you.



X. This is what the conversation looks like when no one wants to have it. Someone keeps score in red.



XI. Dead pull hitter. No trigger. Even the handle has been sold. What remains, iron.



XII. Two arms reaching make little sound grasps at smoke. Nothing here will bloom or rise, planetary faces.



XIII. Ball into glove is to tincture as impact was to need. Precious intensity wheedles its own sins.



XIV. Fine and ground to pieces no bigger than the heart of palm that holds yours. Waves out, be mine.



XV. What is this moon but silver ending, this flesh but nothing, this lamp, this stiff night.

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