The 2River View 27.4 (Summer 2023)

Brent Pallas

An Everyday Life

Let’s say I took a turn somewhere
and idled by candle light
on a Greek shore someplace I’ve never been
or installed mufflers
for a decent wage outside Peoria
or had a little place in high country
where distance embraces the air
and not even a cloud distracts
from the sky’s deepest center
and ended up still with the same
familiar desires and plates
full of whatever struggling to break free
of all the constraints and wages of this world
that make up a scene of at least 27 pages
of a long and tedious dialog
only a dear friend could endure
of unobtainable elements with all their splinters 
of lesser complaints. And yet
embedded in the text
I still want some rhyme to sing
caught up thinking
how we human beings are encoded
in a mere 30,000 genes
and how many mistakes are made
and forgot like a missing cuff link
tossed in a drawer somewhere. How everyday
I stare before coffee out at the yard
and all the eddies and currents that stir the branches
are mere facts of existence and longings
at first light touching the leaves and rake handles
glistening with rain and the ground fog
already blurring the dogwood seems enough.

The Need

These words are no different really
than how the corrupt proceed to experience

what they collect is often what they need
keeping photos of caged and doomed stares,

tattooed forearms are a kind of addiction
to accounting, the way an artist gathers

sunrise after sunrise of the ephemeral,
distilling sighs to what they can possess perhaps

or frame in song sublime as a blaze of sunlight
on a snow bank; or sharper still in the memory

as a Scarlet Tanager one rain-darkened morning
if only for a moment one seems to feel this

is all that is needed. Knowing even how sorrow can lead
to an awakening. A splinter of the true cross, a lock

of Elvis’s hair, a dried bloom pressed to dust
between pages is still a withering detail

of what was for some dear, for others
a kind of truth settles in, an inexplicable

longing to have again and again a taste
of it. Whatever it was. An aftertaste really,

a shiver, a thrust even when one just thinks
of it, that says you were here, and needed this.

And after her husband’s death I can still hear
her screams when she found in his office drawer

photos of his penis in other women’s mouths.
Though he knew he was dying….

Brent Pallas lives and works in New York City. He made his living doing editorial illustration, craft and home design projects. His photography and poetry have been in The Missouri Review, Poetry, San Pedro River Review, The Southern Review, here at 2River, and elsewhere.

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