ANDREW ZAWACKI edited Afterwards: Slovenian Writing 1945-1995 (White Pine Press) and is currently researching theology and deconstruction in Melbourne, Australia. His poems have recently appeared in The New Republic, Colorado Review, New American Writing and elsewhere.


If it be warfare, let it be mistress
and midnight up that slope,
not reticent in a weather
of withdrawal, its salmon-roe tint,
the shabby grass it grazes

but varnished to richterline
under a prismatic glare:
delinquent churn of cloudswath
and gust, calving a foreshore filth
from its respiratory lunge:

inlaid verges blear kaleidoscopic,
larkspur and loosestrife splinter
and render afire, as frontiers to scour
or confiscate, and laving dark
these latent, these restive affronts:

I was in love with a river
and its recoil - water and whither
it went is a doctrine of veil,
applique to what angle of incident
little, what lightless, unhinge.



The drowned from their drawing rooms: lost inside the still life of a town by
someone who never saw them, not even the daughter who stayed for awhile,
leaving again before sunup. Dissolving on iron staircases, pulled by the
gravel to reckon: a lieutenant from the wedge brigade, or the widow he exiled
not least from herself, seven sisters wrapped in a voile of coral labyrinths
and salt. Skipping stones on cobbled backstreets, saying nothing to no one,
we squinted through gasps of longitude and dates the decades had rubbed,
knowing like a swimmer who waits for the beach to keep inching close: soon it
would be time to go home, and pretend that all of this would be penciled in,
or forgotten by the lighthouse keeper who heard it, swearing night didn't
matter where daybreak was proven. A misaligned echo: accounted for, in the
gathering unlit of April, not yet forgiven.


Consigning ourselves to the ground that language incurred, we tacked our
tents to what lack alone could affix: cutwater and floodwrack, breakwater and
flame trees crazing dispersal, fir trees after a fire, the fire itself. Every
word askew without rosetta or ariadne's thread: parousia, paroxysm, purlieu.
A scarlet tanager posed as red underwing, blue-eye as bluegill, grayling as
rainbow trout, wheelruts a niche among impromptu austerities mimicking rough,
fermented baroque. Across the boundaries courting our diffusion, one voice
eloped with another: discordant twins skirting the flimsy half-acres
separated by wire, indebted to an outlaw weather flexing rudderless. Fly-rods
leaning against the porch screen of a nearby tackle shop cast a maze of
cuneiform and flense, the sun not shining except at night, by proxy, from the
other side.