Two Poems by Blas Falconer

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I did not, you insist,
the words garbled by 

the dark fruit in that
mouth. Even 

Union and

soldiers declared
a temporary truce 

to pick
blackberries, the tea 

believed a cure
for dysentery—hands 

that killed and
would kill plucked 

the same branch

It makes a good
story, but it’s 

the story we
can’t agree upon

and the field
darkens more 

sweetly because
we will 

not enter it. 



The truth is that he called her worse if only to make her stop.
She became a place he once lived and loved but no longer longed for.
Then a friend stopped dancing to say, “I don’t know who or when, but someone loved
              you, once.”
And he recalled how she sat on his bed, rubbing his back in the dark, singing.

Her mother blamed the sun for her dark complexion but didn’t know who her father was.
She stopped him, once, in the narrow hall as he made his way in a towel.
Still wet from the shower, he held the knot at his waist.
Above them hung a replica of Goya’s Naked Maja, and he could see, now, that her mouth
              was moving.
Are you? she asked a second time, her fist rising over his head.

One night, his son woke up and wandered the hall, sobbing.
He picked the child up and rocked him until his body stopped shaking.
His son who wasn’t his, who looked like her.

You are a fucking idiot, a stupid faggot, she would say,
her meaning made clear through pitch and tone, pace and breath, her face pressed close
              to his, begging to be hit.



After the pain
is made

public again

we hang on
the line,

your mouth


the crooked tooth.
The glass

at your bedside,
the long

stem—if I
imagine it

does this mean

it isn’t real?
Buds break

in the California

dark. Dont go,
I’d say each night

as you turned
away. One

more story. When
will we be

with our

grief? Language

can’t exhaust
us. We’ve sung

pitiful note.




While you wait, the body sleeps.
The body wakes. The body will
not eat. The body sips. The body is
hot and cold. The body is
broken. The body is lifted and
set down, again. You can hold
the body. You can kiss the body, but
the body sighs. All day, the body is
failing, the mind failing to
forgive the body for this failure.



All day, it’s almost over.
All day, the body won’t,
the body says,

to the water glass,
but air fills the body

the way light fills
the house at night,
so those outside know
someone is living there.



The grunt the body makes
when it moves

means something.
The body once

lifted its head in sunlight
without regard

to itself, only what
it wanted from

the world, what
the body didn’t have,

which was the body’s appetite,
but pain

insists now
the body lie

still. This is one way
the body is

brought back to
itself. Pain is how much

the body wants
to turn away.



In every room, the body is
what’s missing. Why

wouldn’t the world want
the body back,

what lived inside
the body gone, too.

You, who tended to
the body, what

will you do when all
the bedding has

been washed
and folded, what

pain will you tend to, now,
if not yours?




Blas Falconer is the author of The Foundling Wheel and A Question of Gravity and Light. He is also the co-editor of two essay collections, The Other Latin@: Writing Against a Singular Identity and Mentor and Muse: Essays from Poets to Poets. The recipient of an NEA Fellowship, the Maureen Egen Writers Exchange, and a Tennessee Individual Artist Grant, he teaches in the low-residency MFA program at Murray State University.

Photo of lit windows by Ints Vikmanis, courtesy Shutterstock. is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, art, commentary, and design since 1998.