BRIAN HENRY teaches at the University of Georgia-Athens. He is editor and founder of Verse Press. His book Astronaut is forthcoming from Carnegie-Mellon Press.


in her coat pocket, she daggers
      her way homeward, the body
on the tarmac spreading its wares
      ditchward, her left inside heel
undoing itself, keys clicking
      smacking the change back
and forth between linen
      and leg, indefinite faces
no grace has adhered to
      as the wind sharpens her shadow
the hard way, fleck by fleck
      by flesh / along the light
on that cloud - lambent frieze -


the body in bald descent
      an engine stalled in gear
and veering to black, cross
      by a cuneiform no flight
abates, she rehearses the approach
      to scour the sky
black: she tracks the sound
      in the light on that cloud


and recalls with surety the best route
      for a bullet
to take on its way through a body.


In lieu of retraction or retreat, she pushes
further into the interior addled by dusk.

The wet means little cracks beneath,
means a bare line of vision before.

His distance grows, she hopes, with speed,
to a less.

This is how a story comes around -
to scores already tallied, moments

forgotten hastily, as quick or quicker
than they'd happened. Whose story?

not a thing to ask but to think about.
Penetrating, she moves discernibly

through the covering, metalís gleam
in front of her, the sound of cutting absent.

In front of her, just past where she can see,
a man cannot but trip over the roots

he thinks are reaching for him, his body
gathering abrasions rapidly but with small pain.

Each trip slows him, she does not trip
and therefore gains, she does not trip

and sees him sliding down a bank,
and runs because she knows the river there

- its depths no depths at all -
because she prefers shooting down, coming down upon.

He clutches at roots as he slides,
at sticks, and stops at the river's edge

to think a way across:
he chooses to wade and swim

as quick across as his body allows,
will dive if she comes upon him shooting.

She comes upon him singing.