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Michael Trocchia

For Surplus

Meridian Lyric

A Poverty of Futures

Counsel of the Egg

Think To Yourself

One People

For Surplus

A cross-legged boy lit behind a screen of dust.
Bleached linen, a bed of pine needles. A net
tangled in a deaf man’s beard. The march of starless

nights. A knife flung from the footbridge, a cavity
above the chest. The calf’s neck, flies from a greater
wound. The coals cooling. Rubble and weed, faithless

in the angle of repose. Bells softening into silence,
harnessed in calm. A red coat laid over land; forest
waters broken up by rock-slide. The dumb bear

sucking in his sleep, the ox’s nostrils drained. Young
foreheads splashed; one girl rising, mud under her
arms. A thigh. A fawn ravaged under search-

lights. Hands, so many damn hands and a gift
burned into closure, a bending gesture. Remains
of a doorjamb, a curved bannister, an emptied

helmet. Seated inside, a widow’s warm welcome.
Every horse racing into the soil. Not a word 
of blood. A blurred tree and another, perfected

in ritual, in relief, in the season of obstruction. Colors
dying out, waving their last flare down the ridge.
And every second set ablaze; its abstraction, a smoke

that furnishes theory, and a theory that forgets
virtue. Hounds fastened to steel. Steel driven
through wet earth. Rain gaining on rain, rain gutting

confession. A snake at the root, at the word
of recurrence. Marks across the back. A kingdom
erased, a country and a mouse, a bite for a question,

a science of soot. Wisdom and something else
slain. Bullet shells at sea, ambition as bait. A tissue
of cloud hanging over the hill, a goat wincing

against the will of men. A habit or hope to turn to.
A habit or hope torn in two desires and repeat:
After you, it is you again and your body climbing

out of the glen, out of the offering, offering
the first thing and that there, hiding in the furrow.

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Meridian Lyric

          after Cormac McCarthy

Pull your hands away
from your face, this evening redness
around the eyes.
We’ve only to look up
at one pretty mare,
strung from a tree,
drained of its shares
of quickening and light, the neck
opened, a cavity of time and no wind
behind us; and her long shadow
now with everything danceless
at our feet, swimming still in black
pools of mud, a reminder of the unknown
blood of our vices, collecting   
inside us, around the deepest root. 

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A Poverty of Futures

          Ancient Dance for Clairvoyants

Deep in the field, your figure alone, flailing—
thrusting off the plum hour. Fist and limb

thrown high into scorned dusk, a spasm
of body and blind breath, a quivering growth

out of grit, sweet panic in faith, a flowing
in the flower-fold damp under foot. You, braiding

movement, twirl in and out of vine, a clap
of earth and flesh sunk back into song. Lean-

waisted in loose linen, loop of sudden light-
ness, your skin nicked in flash, your diamond-

hinted sweat and salt, god-gifted in glow, and
that heave and hiss in the bark and dark grain

of music coursing through muscle. Time and for-
tune lifted, every apparition shook into view.

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Counsel of the Egg

                after Deiotarus

We can say it was an eagle’s egg
left there in the hole of a rotting

tree that convinced him to abandon
the road at once. And that upon

his return home it was the spoiled egg
in his wife’s palm that convinced him

to abandon their marriage right then. And
that it was the shell of a self looking back

at him in the cold bath that convinced him
to abandon his body there in the water.

We can say this and know no more
than we did before the day we slipped

on our own soles as we started out
on the path that led us right back here.  

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Think to Yourself

“Here reason speaks to reason and keeps its own domain.”
                -Arthur Schopenhauer

Keep motive to motive. Better
to mime winds, rains portioned
out, yawns inlaid like fates finding
form in face and grain. Better

to nail into nature what we want
to build and be, for on every side
of the house there forms our home-
less shadow to storm out from, a stray

word whirling under breath, and
that word made flesh when flesh
seeks cover. Better to stoop under
sun, will ourselves into veils, heave

a last prayer into collapsing
sound. The threads of some
grammar blown across wastelands
out back, the view unfinished

in our eyes. Every rule opening up
between you and what is 
conceived barely—some object
smothered in heat, in the first

sentence even. Every thought keeps
to itself, until it is no longer thought.
You, you sing somewhere, are not alone.  

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One People

                “…Rolling on, it cast a shadow
                Over the city’s heart.” -Virgil, The Aeneid

We are moving inside
a horse. We are like a great family

on the verge of each other’s funeral.
We are moving around in the dark

and the dark carries us ashore.
We are sure of our movement

inside the horse. We are sure
one day the horse will be welcomed

into the hearts of everyone; for we are
moving just like everyone, inside a story

outside history, together. So back
and forth we go, deep in the belly

of a horse, moving as one people one
day carried a gift into their heart, as one

people one day ripped through the dark.    

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Michael Trocchia lives in the Shenandoah Valley where he teaches philosophy and works in the library at James Madison University. His poems have surfaced in Asheville Poetry Review, Black Sun Lit, Colorado Review, Fourteen Hills, Tarpaulin Sky, and elsewhere

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