Jeremiah Moriarty is an American poet and short story writer.
His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Hobart, Two Cities
Review, Handsy, Rust + Moth, and other publications. He was
also a finalist for The Iowa Review Award for Poetry in 2015. He
studied English literature at Carleton College and lives on a farm
in Minnesota. To learn more, visit jeremiahmoriarty.com.
The Perfect Gray
The vacancy of light, and I am
an arrangement under the sheets.
No—I get out of bed, vulnerable soles
occasioned by winter and
hard water—look outside,
because the color of ashes is also
the color in you.
The vastness of midday explores me,
colonizes the space of my
ambition—no watch to mark the time
passing underneath the surface. Hear the
water below, know that it is cool.
Grief in a dress for the finished day,
the prairie light finds me in
the wilder shades. I think for a second
that it really is, relatively speaking,
the perfect gray.
The hour turns, tender spins the coin
before I bring it to rest precarious
on the wrist. It never occurs to me that
everyone depends on heads-and-tails—a world
split between the breathing and the breathless.
The whole of it dependent on
variants of metal luck.
Grave-dirt in the cracks, bullet holes
long bereft of the original powder. The dead and
the living blur here, the score is ghosted.
Who can say the West was won?
Everything seems to be black water,
Dublin churned by thunderheads.
Up O'Connell Street and around manifest
destiny there is a wall riveted with
a foreign language—I put my hand upon
its inelegant surface, yet there remains
no translation of violence.
Easter reckonings, birthing that
'terrible beauty.' I find myself at last
understanding sums and losses.
A wall shattering, stratagem for wounds.
Rebel-light shines blithely through gutters,
and I wish we would just lose count.
Receive some ribbons, keep safe fallen sons.
To each island, their ascending coin.
Spinning, spinning, gone.
Tonight the Mirror
is reflecting the inferno of we glamored
devils, all bright lights, rosé, movie
screens, witch hats and cityscapes.
Give upon me the power of substitution,
mirror, because you are like a Euripides play:
no one gets away unscarred. Nevertheless,
maybe glass can only show the difference
of things, never the unity. I promise
to myself: zip up your leathers, turn
off the lights, and as you slam the door,
listen to it fall.
A Moment in October
Walking through le Parc Rambot, the world yellow like
a Van Gogh tableau, I passed under an ash tree
unleavened by autumn. An Aixoise dog, a shepherd
mix of white and brown, was inspecting its bark.
Did he consider the doubleness of that?
that language twinned them: barking dog, tree bark.
Across the wide gravel path, two women promenaded
arm in arm, one elderly—perhaps
her mother? The people get cold easily here, no wonder.
They are already thick with scarf and trench-coat.
Snow-son, I am wearing a t-shirt, getting overheated by my
own inner disquiet, the fear that I won't be able to
answer someone if they ask a question. Beauty—
morning sun on a park in France, the accidental
masterstroke of a dog and two women, just
being there. A plainsong wind kissed the grass,
And I thought, what a mighty privilege
to love that which doesn't cease.
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