“and even you forgot those brilliant flashes seen from afar” -Ruth Stone

PSALM

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Some believe the world was once
filled with so much color that angels
came down just to bath in it. Some
believe birds are angels, fallen from
clouds (I guess) to watch over us,
to help out when we can’t. If this
were true then why can’t we under-
stand them? And why don’t they
have hands? And why is each wing
hollow? And why do they sing?
Some believe they only help if you
pray to them, yet as soon as you get
on your knees, as soon as you say
the word “pray,” the word comes
flying back to you, not as an echo
but as a thing you could hold, turn
over. It has heft, it is made of some-
thing—a beating heart, a black eye,
a claw to your wrist.

VOLCANO

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Two minutes & the world
will become mono-

chromatic, like your dreams.

Insects will stop chirring,
birds will stop chirping. Two

minutes & the trees will be

buried to their topmost
branches, to become a forest

of little trees. From

then to now, the sun will
become redder &

redder as it sinks, everyone
will mention it—Holy fuck,

did you see it? Tonight,

I’m working the homeless
shelter, I feel loved, I

give out bed tickets in exchange
for it. A plate

of food, a piece of floor,
a corner away from the baseball

bats & gasoline. I’m sleeping
with the woman who counts money in

the cage. It erupted on tv &
the world saw it, it will rain

down for a year, the ash
will slowly cover our naked bodies.

HIVE

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When you open the box

what you find inside
might not save you. You’ve

spent your life looking,

believing whatever
was locked inside would make

the story cohere. Here’s

a story: in the orchard, beneath
each tree, a circle of green,

free of snow, the exact

size of the branches above it—
heat rising

up from the roots, or

perhaps the branches
were an umbrella in the storm.

A frozen pond appears in
the low of the field, grass

poking through, impossible
to stand on it. Your boot

hovers above this nothing, it

will vanish when the sun
finds it. For now,

it is a mirror of the sky, like
all oceans

or cups of water.

Appears in this issue

Nick Flynn has published twelve books, most recently This Is the Night Our House Will Catch Fire (2020), a hybrid memoir.

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