from This Sentence Is a Metaphor for Bridge | Richard Jeffrey Newman | The Piltdown Review

from This Sentence Is a Metaphor for Bridge

This Sentence Is a Metaphor for Bridge
Photograph from Bigstock. Photo manipulation by William Shunn.

These poems are the first five in a book-length sequence called This Sentence Is a Metaphor for Bridge.

1

The dreams that leave you stranded

on the ledge you hope you will not die on

complete the ones that you run

naked through, bright

as a waxing crescent

slitting darkness open,

despite the absence

of a waiting lover.

Face your shame.

Then sweep the air

above your head with flame.

2

Dragon scales shimmering

across the trembling

surface of the lake,

the moon’s reflection

inscribes your loss.

Forget how long you hid.

For now, the noose hangs

limp and bloodless

around your neck,

and the words swirling

in your unshod brain

like tea leaves

in a paper cup,

like birds that’ve lost

the will to flock,

refuse to come to rest.

Nonetheless, these lines,

that fallow field,

the barefoot love

you’re here to render.

Affirm your bruised

and withered heart

against the sky’s clenched fist.

Undo the ligatures

binding your name.

You will not burn,

nor will the earth beneath you

cease to turn,

if you embrace

a newly sprouted leaf.

Do not grieve.

You cannot know

before it happens

what comes next,

cannot dream away

the vast expanse

you’re heir to. Reject

the splintered ethics

that would buy your silence.

There is no balance without fear.

You will not fall.

Your path is clear.

3

You fucked like beasts,

attacking or defending

what precisely

you never learned,

as you never learned

how not to cross

the joining of cock and cunt

to the bared fangs

of dismissed compassion.

That’s why you tell your children lies.

The trysts you keep with ghosts,

however, are yours not theirs.

Besides, much sooner than you think,

they’ll make their own without you.

4

You counted them

before you understood

that you were counting,

wrapped each one

in a scrap of newsprint,

arranged them all

side-by-side in the basket

your neighbor left at your door

with the shoes you once said

looked comfortable enough

to run ten miles in.

You tied those laces tight,

chose the road

you hoped would end

in unbroken silence

and walked that bitter mile

through the dust,

and pierced its veil,

and mastered your disgust.

So let the rotting corpses

you have carried

fall away. Honor the rift.

If you plan to stay,

shed everything that’s not a gift.

5

We’re here because we trust that you won’t leave,

because these fallen leaves distort death’s face,

because what fell from you is less reprieve

than simple logic falling into place.

The future forms in increments of sound,

the footsteps of those fingers on your thigh.

What rises overflows its banks. Unbound,

it grows until it fills the evening sky.

It’s more than rhythm calls these words to form.

It’s more than precedent. You have to break

consensus with each line.

You have to.

You’ve come this far to learn what love’s about.

So turn it over; see what rattles out.  

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