for Peter Schwartz

By Barry Graham

My head swims beyond the rows of trees and stone statues beyond this tired plaza with its overgrown armory of wooden benches and slow fountains beyond the unmentionable and immeasurable beyond the soldiers and pigeons beyond government and reason beyond even the child playing at the edge of the courtyard. To cling is to butcher the center of each experiment where only the motives change where sleep is a cheap key; turning over without pushing in. We are our own burning mascots; nameless. A mutant voyeur, watched to death like old toxicology worried what foreigners might do to sublet his crowded partnership from its soft garage. Once in Holland I saw a painting of an apple now some nights I hang myself on the wall like a painting and wait for a power greater than sleep to take me to my orchard. I throw my closest regrets into a half grave of retreat and servitude.

I will be him, undone by less than nothing a gutted actor fishing out his bones to fashion xylophones to play the night out one note at a time an exile from the world of the paper fed and puckered an injured guest of the daily minarets that form like juries over marrow an untouchable bloodline dying in the midst. She knows the silk of widowhood can only be folded. (no chair) deboned, flabbergasted, deadlocked, still. Knowing the lightning never reached the mantle without a little death without some halfway. How many miles after seeming, can I survive? Tenderize your fledglings carry your permeable orphanage like a cloud be a servant not a tenant; traffic only in preludes And cry beneath false carpets petting their oblivions down; my pretties, my pretties, my pretties are ugly, but true. I did not wish to be this and here I am panting for a rabbit again for that validation that dashboard juggernaut that swooning crossbreed, their friendship. Nothing human means what it means till now.

Barry Graham earned an MA in Creative Writing from Eastern Michigan University. He is the author of two collections of fiction, The National Virginity Pledge and Not a Speck of Light is Showing. His fiction, poetry, and essays have appeared in numerous magazines, anthologies, and literary journals.


Peter Schwartz's "ghost diet"