Nicholas Christian is a poet whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in TAB, The Lindenwood Review, Cobalt Review, Rat’s Ass Review, Off the Coast, Poetry Quarterly, Poetry City, USA, and elsewhere. His work explores the significance of world mythology, initiatory rites, and further what it means to live in a modern place and age where they are sorely needed while frequently absent.
Waking for the Shipwreck
‘What have you done with the garden that was entrusted to you?’
– Antonio Machado
We leave behind so little ash—what a gift!
Keep cutting and casting yourselves down,
these thousand deaths dress in loam
with nurserymen eyes.
When the chafed fingers of Desert Fathers
snatch up the last wildflower, we know
what brings the flood. Our hands are tired
of putting so much water
into our mouths. It’s true
some small trees bare no good fruit;
we say: with these make a ship,
and act surprised when it begins to burn.
Blind Salome answers, “Do not speak,”
then, “so, are you ready?”
It’s alright if the minotaur weeps at Kierkegaard’s stallion.
What is water without its pint of salt?
Sometimes a wolf learns its last dance and every black eagle
gives away its life—so what if we are good sleepers
who bite themselves into thread. What can we do?
Stir an eye and Izdubar sleeps on the serpent;
why should we breathe so hard at the edge of things?
History says, “It’s not personal.”
When the glass bottle washes ashore empty we begin to sing;
it is a full voice who finds the Ocean too is lonely.
A Night For Whittling
We know plants growing in the dark are thin,
that our child always gallops his face towards the sun,
that trusting a chariot in the lurch is the night
we string up Liszt with fingers that refuse to bleed,
and die fifty years later without learning to dance.
We know that draping the tallest trees in wool
won’t help them burn, so when Philemon speaks,
in right hand passing the bull’s thigh, and careworn a ring
of keys in the other: clever whose thinking sits upon many waters
keep shouting: I am simple! I am afraid!