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Creative Commons License

This work is licensed
under a Creative Commons
4.0 International License

Postmodern Village
est. 1999
e-mail * terms * privacy
by Joey Lemon

The truth might dazzle gradually,
but must it be coddled and weaned
like a newborn baby
until it's ready to make its way?

Any way you slice it,
an orange tastes like an orange.
Is a half-truth still true
like a halved fruit is still fruit?

Make a crystal sentence where worlds expand
like a bruised and broken
                                        light shattered
through a prism or a hollow
                                           pointed bullet that spreads in all
directions before lodging in the once-living body.

The juice crystallized
into a sharper orange -- so
sharp and cold my teeth chattered
as I swallowed the sour truth.


"I'm not so great,"
she whispered, breathlessly,
"at the long lingering

sentence." She touched me
with her words like they
were fingerprints.

With perfect pressure
in all the right places,
my fingers curl

around a pen.
Are the integrity of the poem
and the integrity of the truth

synonymous? Hands weave
words like soft clay
I want to mold but can't.

When truth tears itself
down the middle,
the thread follows its needle.

I run patient lines
down the torn thing.
I haven't healed

a thing in weeks because thing
is a weak word. It feels
like a void. What is she

avoiding? What exactly is she
missing? The dead

mouse beneath the sink?
The water seeping through
the cracks in her foundation?

What will we accomplish
with this one life? What is worth
the whisper of our being?


Birds are waging war on the dead
land. I'm uncertain where
to begin
making sense
of the series
of events circling
like vultures on the scent
of a dying dog or deer
or democracy.
I soak awhile in the warm bath
of my health
insurance policy.
I don't have words. I must expand
my vocabulary.
Last night, I put together
a shiny new mower
and mowed the wild lawn.
When I'd finished, I stood back
and looked and felt completely
satisfied. The gassed
children in Syria. My life
is so light. I can't bear
to think of all the suffering.
Trillions of years
led to me,
right here, right now,
the living peak
of evolution
listening to the neighbors
argue down the street.


So when I mash
one hand into the other
hand like I'm trying

to pick a fight, I'm
really just saying, "Here,
here is my fist,

here is my palm.
Please listen, and listen
to me closely."

How strange to listen
and not speak and not agree
or disagree or repeat
any of the same things.


I build my hand into a hand that serves.
I walk along the narrow ledges late
at night and I observe
                                    the world below,
tragically blooming into groves, into fields
of flowers, wild and beautiful, or whatever
manages to grow beneath the foliage.


Even as the monstrous fate of the world
dawns, a mother bears a son. The born
awakens, already
                            drowsy with the apathy
of his father, lazily drifting in and out
of sleep. The tiny mouth. The baby teeth.
The trailing tooth
of disappointment drags along the street.
The father finds a crippled path and
follows it until it dribbles out
into the forest like a stream.
The low billowing
                           clouds crowd the sun.
The golden sunrise is the mouth
Swallowing the ocean.