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ADELAIDE Independent Monthly Literary Magazine / Revista Literária Independente Mensal, New York / Lisboa, Online Edition  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE PEOPLE WHO VANISH
by Ryan Havely

 

 

The People Who Vanish

You wear the wind around you
like a favorite shawl.  I try
to hold you against me
and you go to ashes.  You
leave like a storm,
tie your hair
with ribbons
like rivers
like ribbons.  Others have gone this way.
The self-proclaimed matador
who called himself Gazania
fell through a puddle
and vanished.  The old women
say he was dreamed
by a sick child
or the widow whose lover
wandered up the blue ridge
toward Phoenix Mountain
one dawn and never wandered
back.  His hat came bobbing
down Cranberry Creek
later that summer.  The old women
say a widow can build a man
out of dreams.  She left too,
the widow.  A pack of dogs
watched her float, sleeping,
into the foggy moon
not long after Gazania
slipped through that crack
in his reflection.  Most people say dogs lie
but the old women
know a late mist held the widow
like a girdle that night
and before she was gone
she fluttered in the wind
like a cattail.  Your eyes
bare a luster of going, and this is not a place
where the people refuse to go.
Maybe you jump
into a kiss of smoke
and scatter, or you dream
a copper hill
rich in Spanish Poppy
and wake there.  How you go
is your business, just as the wind
that takes you
is the wind’s business
and the hard shadows
you leave behind
like oil stains
offer their empty
to the others
who follow you away.

 

 

 

Chicken Little

Can you imagine a world more sad
more penetrated or irate
more whole and unforgotten
Anything you say before sunset is true
rain falls in straight lines and the drops
never touch           if they touched the sky’d fall
with them           if the sky falls you’ll wake up afraid
if you’re afraid          you’ll hurt yourself          and others
if you hurt yourself     and others the seas     won’t churn
if the seas don’t churn     math won’t work     if math
won’t work the numbers     can’t match and   if the
numbers can’t match the      sky  might  fall   and
if the sky falls we’ll all be    afraid  again and if
we’re afraid we’ll send men with no beards
as far as we can send them and we’ll tell
them to draw lines on the earth and wait

to rise like suns from holes in the mud
and run like rivers toward guns
We’ll tell them they can’t be afraid
because we’re not afraid
and the sky hasn’t fallen
and the numbers check out    

 

 

 

Isn’t It Was Love?

Imagine it’s about you,
this poem, any poem
you like.  Ask me to write
you a poem, and I’m finished.
I wrote it when I wrote
this poem, now, then,
back right now when
I’m wrote, when I writing
with you docked like a canoe,
tied to a tree on a sandbar in my
imagination.  Ask what is not
about you, what thought could be,
what thinking would even matter
were you not its seed,
and I will tell you
                       nothing.

 

 

 

Seppuku in the Kitchen

First, cut a green pepper, red pepper, and onion
into long, thin strips, and set aside.  Some
snowflakes melt before they find ground,
yet each is no less a snowflake
than the pebble in your sock is less a stone
than the granite slab on the riverbed—
rainbow trout resting an inch above
in the never-ending water that dreams
of stillness.  The trout find peace in high currents,
find stillness in hurried streams.  Next, peel
and dice two large cloves of garlic and chop
a nice handful of cilantro.  Put your skillet
over medium-high heat.  Do not blame
the nightmare for your terror.  The nightmare’s
job is to frighten, as the song’s job is to tempt,
as the autumn-red oak leaf’s job
is to castle windsweptly downward and skirt
along the ground, farther from home
with each gust.  Coat pan with oil and add
peppers, onions, and the chicken you
marinated overnight while the red moon
lingered in your window like a grifter
so when you wanted to see out you only saw
your face on the moon, your vapid eyes
at the bottoms of bloodshot craters, boot-prints
stamped into your skin.  Stir frequently. 
When chicken is cooked through,
add garlic and one-third cilantro to hot pan, turn
off heat and stir.  Next, kneel and insert blade into abdomen
just left of navel and cut toward right until
overcome with pain.  Finally, pull blade upward,
cut until blade hits moon and recite your death poem.
If you’ve nothing to say, the moon
says nothing, so wash your hands
and start again.  If each word
of your breath rhymes with the moon,
it will sit like a jester in your window.
Go with him.  Listen to his stories,
laugh at his jokes.
Serve with tortillas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Author:

Ryan Havely

Ryan Havely earned his B.A. in English from Ohio University and his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Minnesota State. He worked as a college professor for a decade before moving into marketing. His work is found in such magazines as Pebble Lake Review, Ampersand, Midwestern Gothic, and Main Street Rag, among others.

 

 

 

 

     
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