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[Poetry] Two Poems by Peter Kirn

Updated: Nov 29, 2023


i can't even remember

if in the dream we had made it out alive

the language of the land we were in

or whether there were others--

adorations of my younger years--don't call them lovers--

surfaced as i crouched in that tunnel

that island that cave that barn that

burnt out old motel even the sex workers said was sketchy

crouched in that beach shack

below the palmtree for days

there was some stray unpaired magnetism still

somehow waiting for the music to start

while my love tightened the tourniquet with her eyes

and the sand swallowed what must have been blood

and the whales followed the one desperate comrade to the smell of despair

and i don't remember if the animals were well fed

or if in the basement we shouldered our hope and dreamt of stairways

or if one soldier had some wine

or if there was a young loon or just a painting of one--

i can't imagine stalling but what if i was

watching the wholesale wasting of memories

while they counted the final votes in the lingering counties

as if one could decode the horror

or one could end the siege

or one could make of the deserted metropolis a fabulous matrix of waves the distant future

despite being a hall of doorways

was buried in the wall

like a little mouse

with plenty of fear

i cannot imagine i was in love

but i might have dreamt of it

one thousand times and one thousand

more in a single night --it wouldn't have been like me

--all given up and resigned-- but i can't remember how i was supposed to have been

in the version of all of this where there was you

and the petals in the center of the dahlia took on the wild curl

of the hair that hung below the ear of summer

and my heart drew my hand up to cover it for it was lucid and bare to the world


i remember how i was in love

and i couldn't move i was so lonely i remember living in the car--

the smell the cold makes

i have loved dog after dog

and could barely leave and left

i have a sharp grudge against just one person

but even that will fade with time

i'm not sure why i'm telling you this today--

maybe because the sky is clearing and the clouds are gold

maybe because i laid in the dark for hours and hours

trying to measure the weights of things

weightless as time and darkness and got nowhere i

was thinking about pastures

without thinking about grass--when truth

was a hungry not-quite-yearling relying

on the unproven idea of the end of winter--

on some silver far off moment

that didn't even know itself yet--so i resolved to try

to love something new

enough to leave the rest behind --for years

my goal was to do just this

to watch the sun come up on the farm at the edge of the world

to hear my pen scratch out something

my brain didn't say--

and i've hunched over a hundred tables

listening to the livestock and the symphony of air through an old barn

but now they all seem to wonder what i'm still doing here

so i listen to the sound my pencil makes

and search for messages

and instructions for the future and signs

of the glowing lifeform

in the alien raffia of wild grass in winter

the inlays on the shells of the urchins

the liquid turquoise and sapphire of the humanless

and the creeping inscription

of lichen across the ledge scraped raw

where the farm walks into the sea

Peter Kirn is a poet and a homesteader/farmer. He lived on the move for many years and now lives in a small offgrid cabin, on his homestead, with a dog, in a rural town, on the northernmost coast of Maine.


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