The 2River View 28.3 (Spring 2024)

Douglas Cole


There's an alone so alone the mind starts to eat itself—
it begins with edges of memory gone like eroded beaches,
the clean solid wall fading between you and your dreams—
now the phantoms and the kid catchers run loose,
ripping up your garden. You've lost your public face!
Anyone other than the government would think you've gone
out of your mind—babbling out loud, thinking without cover.
Mirrors are assassins. The stove wants to sing.
These aren't my cats pawing at the windows, eyes making clear
what they'll do if they get in. You'll just have to imagine
the psychic sandbags I've stacked at every door,
the dwindling provisions, the escape pod on the roof
I climb into when the firefighters bashed through the walls.


Spectral Chicken

distant sounds of a bull fight, the desert ring—
shadow of the mother singing swallow after swallow
through the mission doors—blue Jay, you're back
with your question crest and your bullet eyes
giving curiosity a spin in a city of movable parts.
There used to be a building here, can't you see its echo?
Step into the elevator and hit number 4—you'll end up
in the basement, I know, I tried it over and over.
I'm climbing off a different plane and kissing the ground
where we came to vacation and call it quits and dissolve
in waves without beginning, waves without end.
My backpack and glasses are still in the gym locker.
You might find a few tidbits there if the kid clerk allows it,
but I'll let you in on a secret—basement, penthouse,
laughable streets remaking themselves, we're always
within easy reach—can't you hear the crowds cheer?
Pick something good from the menu, what you can read
in letters more like leaves tumbling down the street.

Douglas Cole has published six poetry collections and the novel The White Field, winner of the American Fiction Award. He lives and teaches in Seattle, Washington. website
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