Devin Kelly

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Devin Kelly earned his MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and co-hosts the Dead Rabbits Reading Series in New York City. He is the author of the collaborative chapbook with Melissa Smyth, This Cup of Absence (Anchor & Plume) and the forthcoming collection, In This Quiet Church of Night, I Say Amen (ELJ Publications). He is working now on a collection of poems inspired by Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska. He has been nominated for both the Pushcart and Best of the Net Prizes. He works as a college advisor in Queens, teaches poetry at Bronx Community College, and lives in Harlem. You can find him on twitter @themoneyiowe.

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AUBADE FOR A NEBRASKA MORNING

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Let it be new skin suturing a wound. The final drops

of blood washed off a body in the shower. The water

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in the drain, the drain itself. Let it be what you said

to me once. We were naked & morning sat simple

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& growing like a child between us. You didn’t

want to leave the bed. Let it be that. Let it be

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simple & kind. I know love isn’t & I know, too,

that patience most often yields no rewards. Let it be

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dust gathered in your palms, a hand closing, & then

the dust turning to coffee grounds. Let it be steeped

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& warm. You don’t speak much about your troubles.

I have to read your eyes & in them sits a width

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I could build a bridge across. Let it be the bridge.

Let it be the river below. Let it be the mirror

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you stare into before pinning up your hair. Let it be

in whatever spirit spurs the pup to huff at the fog

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gathered rumpled upon the bedspread of the land.

Let it be not forgotten, the way most forget

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the killing done here, how the earth holds more blood

than oil. Let it be how much I love & how much

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I love you. Let it sit here all day & never grow old.

How I wish that could be true. Look out the window

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by your bed. See how the glimmer glitters up the grass.

See how there’s a path & how there’s no path at all.

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Let it be whatever you make of it. Night comes & then

there’s a wound. Let it be the crawling out, the healing.

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AUBADE FOR A NEBRASKA NIGHT

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Believe me, I know there’s a wound. & believe, too,

the definition of everything. That night can be the sea

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you open your window upon in dark. That sometimes

there’s nothing to hold onto but your mind & even

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your mind can be an anchor cut away from boat,

drifting long & deep to a ground where you’ll never

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set foot. Anything can be anything & that’s the trouble

with everything. You want to find the line that separates

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sky from ground, but when you lean out your small square

of city, town, it’s dark & then darker shades of dark.

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You could wander into space if you aren’t careful. You could

mistake a lake’s reflection for stars & drown. You could

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fall off this flat earth that never seems to turn when you

want it to. That’s the way it is with wounds. They heal

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& then there’s a scar, & if there’s no scar, there’s a memory,

which is forever a kind of scar you can trace the finger

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of your mind along until even the tangent of a tangent –

the echo of a boy’s voice singing through the quiet,

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a car sputtering before its start, smoke too far removed

from smoker – reminds you of where you’ve been

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& still how close you are to the past. The night

is good for that. It lasts & then it lasts. Or it disappears

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like a bullet through your eyes & waits, purple-tongued,

licking the edges of the sky, to come back. I can understand

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everything because of this. I see you at your window

in your longing for clarity. I see the world well up, cobalt,

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in your eyes. You are an explosion of searching. It will

drive you crazy & your crazy will be beautiful because

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it will contain so much. See how your vision adjusts

in dark to take in what little light there is. Love’s

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a scary game to play – it has no shadow or color.

It’s a liquid you pour into a dark glass. Your mind

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wants no part of it. I know this. I have no advice

for this. You sleep & then you wake up. Life is funny

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because it has no metaphor other than itself. By morning,

you will find the edges of buildings scraping an axe

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along the hollow orange of sunrise. You will take

a shower or you won’t. You will hang your hair

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to dry & forget to lock the door. It’s okay.

You will go back. It doesn’t matter anymore if you did

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or did not. It’s the going back that counts. It’s the way

you brush the lone wet strand behind your ear,

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how rain is falling through the steam of your coffee,

how somewhere out there, a child is singing.

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