M. N. O'Brien received his B.A. from Roanoke College, where his work
was published in On Concept's Edge and received the Charles C. Wise
Poetry Award. He currently lives in Lexington, Kentucky, taking
seasonal jobs that do not interfere with writing poetry. He despises
writing about himself in the third person.

How to Swim

Let's give out sleek lampshades
for every hardcore party animal,
legendarily stealing goats and looking
for references in marker, written on the wall.

I was given cryptic advice but I only remember
who was to blame. It's my fault for focusing on
my ears. What if the window resembles
a mirror? Should I take
my faded reflection and everything on the other side?

Someone said this is just a process of getting older.
Someone said it never stops raining under water,
but I'm the only one who thinks fresh air is nothing
to fear. I'm the only one who stares, knowing
a fish out of water is a fish that has a free mind.

There's a danger of staying
out too long, claims the sun,
shining through the bullet holes in the barrel.

Gustav Jaeger Taxidermy INC.

Before heading to the airport to meet up
with his hunting friends, Gustav closed
shop. He left the wooden
tiger in the middle of the store.
Alexander said he bagged one earlier that week.
Vincent bagged one too, but later let him go after
the tranquilizer had worn off. Vincent took a picture and wanted a replica
erected. Alexander shot
the tiger in the head with his gun
after he trapped it in a hole. Vincent only killed one animal,
a Xenorhyncus asiaticus. Damn stork
flew in front of his motorcycle when he was in Australia.

My Existential Friend

Acrostic for Justin Hoyer

Just like oranges and Judas
Ubiquity is a concept best left hanging,
Suspended within and without our camera lens sight
Trying to exist. Neurology is more romantic
In dreams, though you would disagree, or maybe
Not. You surprise me more than

Heroes would, and that's a good thing.
Of course we need to remain patriotic for charities to stay
Youthful, with or without astronomy.
Especially with metaphysics, we need to work around the trees,

On Seeing the Sunlight Surround You in the Doorway

We were the greatest thing never to happen,
and leave the door to a different world closed.

We loved in mutual silence and assumptions,
shattered glass smile of the face of denial.

We were bound, like all things, with chains,
to haunt each other's dreams and choices.

We were the greatest
thing never to happen.
We left the door unopened,
and each other closed.

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