Melancholy Hyperbole

Poetry about longing.



the new flat doesn’t smell like anything, not fresh paint, or cleaner, or previous tenants. never before has dust taken so long to settle. i’m trying to stay here, grounded in the scentless, untouched quiet.   but all this kind of moon ever does is throw its many-shadowed blue arms over the floor and, presently, my legs. it is the same moon. then there is the same brick. concrete before […]

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Approximation   The grandfather points out the witch at the market   who comes to buy mushrooms and stare at postcards.   She touches the sand dollar wind chimes, retracting   her hand as the dry bodies musically crash. She strokes   the sharp scales of fish lain in shaved ice, tries to discern   the words caught in their gills. She has forgotten the art of   existence, the […]

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Rain taps on the tin roof and I am in an unlit room not thinking of you.   The air is cold, not like winter; it feels like your arms when they’re not wrapped across my ribs, your hand curling next to my lips, catching my more quiet breaths.   1:24 AM – the clock sits on the table next to the right side of my bed, where you slept. […]

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I forget my reasons for staying, saying instead it’s what’s right–   wrong, again.   Again, I swallow it all: the anger, the regret. But it won’t stay down, as I do. It rises, likes the hot air you speak, corrodes the ceiling, takes my breath, leaves me gasping, choking on what you could not swallow.   The indignant, after all, have no room for their own mistakes.     […]

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the boy’s own scrapbook

high jump a copperhead chase cows cross country   carry a dead skunk down the grassy lane throw up at the finish   lose another race with death to your grandmother’s house   fumble the snap you got nothing   hum baby hum throw your father a curve   put your dukes up circle the room   make a free throw the crowd goes wild     Barry Basden lives […]

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They Say You Finally Have to Forgive Everything

They Say You Finally Have to Forgive Everything My uniformed father’s smile resembles the Mona Lisa’s, as unknowable to me as ever, his cheeks rouged like some downtown whore’s by an assistant in the backroom of the All-American Studio 40-odd years ago. They say there may have been another woman and a child–my half-sister. Still over there somewhere. I’ve found out things, but never a hint about them. I take […]

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Awakening to Mourning

Awakening to Mourning   “There’s nothing good about goodnight when it means goodbye.” ― Jeff Thomas Dad worked at the Atlantic-Richfield refinery in Port Arthur, Texas. On the morning of August 16th, 1963, when I was thirteen, he left for work before I awoke. I never saw him again, except in photographs and memories. Neither of us knew that last “good-night” was our last. There was an explosion at the […]

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The Game of Whisper Down the Lane

Listen with your grownup ears. The night may speak to you with silence. The silence of leaves turning. Of a spider’s patience. Silence abiding. The moon shrugs off its silver stole, bright paradigm to let it go— loss, dependence, fear—to take the stars as your guide, the cataclysmic births and deaths, the shy-of-everlasting light, the fatal strength to face the end. We’ve changed since we were children. How many faces […]

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