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Jesse DeLong

Placed in the sun...

Bird and I...

As I Limp...

Because Bird's side of the bed...

Echoes, Thus, the Song

Placed in the sun of the bedroom window for so long, the cloth of a suitcase, open, but never packed, begins to lighten in color.

There is no wind to carry, bear, or even refuse
to bear a sound so heavy as regret.
We go about the echoes of our lives as if we choose
the windless bearings of our hearts. Please, Bird, refuse
the light nudge of my toes on your calves in the morning,
the way the silverware is always only half set.
There is no wind. Not for you. Only the refusal you bear
so heavy, but regret to bear. An echo: a sound unheard.

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Bird and I, on a blanket in the yard, face the road. She cradles a glass of water with a lemon in it neither of us has touched. The sun pelts when the wind does not and her glass slowly sweats. Not a car, not even a bicycle, rustles up dust.

To gather all other moments into itself.
The ambiguities of always wanting.
Us, struck as such. Even lasting has a shelf
life. Gathered of all moments. Itself
also wanting the lack which time brings. Help
me consider, Bird, why to continue is so daunting.
Why staring into the roadkill of all moments is
itself ambiguous. Wanting always to be not wanting.

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As I limp to the river on a trail we’d made by pressing into the same earth for several years, I sleeve through some low hanging willow limbs and see Bird turning from the shoreline, the light of her lantern like little stars on the water bugs, then the light burning them out, and the water blackening, and her face caught by it so that I can distinguish, in her horror at seeing me there, her remorse.

Where she does most damage to herself,
then the metaphor’s at its most useful.
Charred by her own propulsion. What else
she does, where she damages, her self
only knows how much warmth is felt
by the gas. Before she burns there, or after.
Where she does mostly put herself is damage
in the light. Mostly a meteor, unsighted.

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Because Bird’s side of the bed is only wrinkled sheets now, I take a stroll through the alleys. Sunlight, not choked by smoke, is a golden grey, an unstrung sonata, all I can hope for.

And sometimes my father was forced
to play the cello while she undressed
& wept. Her skin, sun-hid, was coarse.
Peeling a plum’s sticker, he spoke: Sometimes,
son, we deserve, us little bees, a second course. 
He pressed the pit up against his gums.
Though sometimes my father played forceful enough
that she, sweeping up her shirt, undressed the cello.

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Echoes, Thus, the Song

To make, or utter in, short, shrill tones,
as some birds do, if we believe the bird
sounds not the bird sound. But rather, unalone,
wants to make another utter in short, shrill tones.
I did, last night, into the phone
and listened to how, reverberating back, my words
were made: uttered in shorter, shriller tones
than one bird does, if we believe the bird.

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Jesse DeLong's debut manuscript, The Amateur Scientist's Notebook, was published by Baobab Press. Other work has appeared in Colorado Review, Mid-American Review, American Letters and Commentary, Indiana Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, and Typo, as well as the anthologies Best New Poets 2011 and Feast: Poetry and Recipes for a Full Seating at Dinner. His chapbooks, Tearings, and Other Poems and Earthwards, were released by Curly Head Press. He tweets @jessemdelong.

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