Online Exclusive

Four Poems

As a light show, it feels paltry.
I mean, you’d think there would be
more electricity, what with
the planet grinding its atmosphere
into the black bowl of space,
mortar-and-pestle. Maybe
I am not far enough north;
the drapes of the borealis
hang down drably, and when
I tell others about it, I will have
to exaggerate or risk seeming
unobservant, unenlightened.

On the other hand, we have this
astonishing fact: the bat eats
its weight in insects each and every
dull night, regardless of what is
or is not going on miles above.



The wires have shaken loose
around our ankles, where they
lay like brambles. Do you, too,
miss the old A-frame? A new
mammal brushed up beneath
us every night and moths
as big as saucer plates strained
to get in. Endlessly, we played
the game: what-do-those-eyes-

There were no wrong answers.
On torrential, housebound days,
even our shared boredom
made us tremble and we couldn’t
keep our clothes on. I confess,
afterwards, I sometimes flushed
while you were in the shower
because I liked the blush of your
stung skin and how you howled
like one of those craven things

in the trees out back. I’m in here,
you’d scream. Yes, yes.



I prefer the hour following dusk here
at the water’s edge. The broken world
broken back at me doesn’t make it
whole, the black torsos of drunk
yellow pines coming home. Any
stars are eaten, dissolved in the body
of the lake warmer than air, and from
which emerges a continual hatch
that the dark kerchiefs veer out for,
silently carry off, like the work
of a traveling magician, and I’m left
thinking there must be a wire, and here
comes the curtain of the east
before I can test any more theories.



You are just a kid, assumed asleep,
the party goes on and on. Aside

from brief, winded moments of dancing
or laughter, what do they do all night?

Better to be out here in a darkness
edged by the grass it is your job

to tend. There are two forgotten
sandal flats on the patio flagstones.

No moon. You feel almost
anonymous, except for the gap

where the maple once stood;
the maple now felled, sectioned,

at rest in its brush. That absence,
the sap of it you will take to bed.

Benjamin Landry is the author of Burn Lyrics and Particle and Wave. His poems have appeared in journals such as the New Yorker and Kenyon Review, links to which can be found at his website. He teaches creative writing at SUNY Potsdam, where he also directs the Peace Poetry Project.