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Wren and Jackal Poems

I’ll relate to you the order of occasions:

1.  I explain the water’s gurgling.
2.  Sandhill cranes are counted by the banks.
3.  Though this is not a dream it’s still a falsehood.
4.  A counting of the cards.
5.  Three times the cranes dip into water.
6.  Four times they rear, again, their heads.
7.  What is the need? This adding frost to snow?
8.  What is the need? This adding frost to snow.
9.  I replicate, along the banks, my tracks.
10.  I leave them undisturbed.
11.  It hinged on this, this moment of extinction.


Wren (Invocation)

Then a fallen, then a thunder.

                                                                                                                                                                Wren flies that way, scared.

I was lostness: could not find wren, could not seize wren.

                                                                                                                                                                     I ate, drank, slept in bits.

I passages’d around.

                                                                                                                                                I let wren say, as weeping:       . . .etc.

Then wren prods the ground.

                                                                                                                              Wren, dressed in kings, stone-set, set-stone —

Wren: In these stages of collapse, I. . .

If the numbers counted up were counted down again. . .

                                                                                                                                                                 Wren says: batten hatches.

Wren lets me say, as weeping:        . . .etc.

                                                                                                                                                 I go wood-wose, wandering around.

I count the syllables: 14.

                                                                                                                                                                          I count the letters: 47.

Wren to deep water: now?


I play a song for wren, wren likes it.

                                                                                                                                                                 Wren asks me: play again.

Wren lets wren weep, says:       . . . etc.

                                                                                                                                                 I and wren go, hand-by-hand, away.


Wren Song #3

I take salvation in its bite-sized forms;
I wonder if the sandman comes at night;

I pack the stones in piles by the shore;
I tend the garden of earthly delight.

And if it were that I could comprehend
the ways through cloud and music wren ascends?

I count the birds that falter as they fly;
Is I awry with wren or wren with I?


Is I awry with wren or wren with I?
Is I a rock as much as wren is sky?

Is this the final breakage into cry
that leaves the I and wren solidified?

Now wren in mist; in terror; wren in doubt;
in chariot; in mantle; wren in cloud;

in recrudescent language, lingered on;
in mud-formed, muffled, birdie-brokered song.


If wren is wren or if wren, unwrenned, still
maintains its name or if its bloodied bill

lies plume-plucked, no more cormorant than crow;
nor wren; nor birdie, tomb-tucked, overthrown;

Or if wren is ascension, if wren’s flight,
if birdie faithful-wakes into the night,

then I and wren and birdie (all the same)
run wrack on ruin, ruddied, undecayed.


[in which i give the jackals names]

I, shivering, fearing full:

fruit flies fend about my navel:

                                                                                                                                                                                          Did not days,
                                                                                                                                                                                hard  & mourning,
                                                                                                                                                                                       weep disaster?

                                                                                                                                        Did not I, morning hard, storm through
                                                                                                                                                           your soul? Afflict your bones?
                                                                                                                                                              Terror, fever, brother, skin?

I are dead horse.

They am whiplash.

They are willow, whimple, windlass.


I’d be pleased enough with poetry.

Pleased enough without the Jackals crying in my mouths.

They are wilderness, discovered. I am tabernacle, taken down.

Terrified of mouths & Jackal: holy, brazen, and condemned.


[in which the jackals overwhelm]

The Jackals make their faces                                                                                                          (angry, sad, and frightened).

 The Jackals throw their stones at faces                                                                                       (angry, sad, and frightened).

The Jackals by the asters, cast their shadows, cast their stones at faces                               (angry, sad, and frightened).

The Jackals by the asters, by the thorn-grove, by the by.


The Jackals sing their songs on branches                                                                                   (watching, always watching).

The welled up eyes                                                     (the mouth the mouth the mouth the mouth the mouth the mouth).

The healthy goat eats only grass                                                                                     (the wounded goat eats sneezeweed).


[in which i give the jackals me]

Or how can one thing equal nine
how this be this or that or what the ways

the count them ways
in which we spoke of cast-

les passages through randomness
that were and weren’t both the choosing

what if anything is cast
the brightness here is shuddering

what goes on and on like ants
colonial and vesting

terrible news for Jackals who once
congregated this and there

terrible just terrible to be those dogs who
thrown a bone just wince and whine astounded.



Aaron Lopatin is a poet and teacher living in Brooklyn. His work has appeared in the Colorado Review, Tupelo Quarterly, Interim Poetics, Apartment Poetry, and elsewhere.