Joshua Kryah

Towards or Away

Your body is not.

But once bodied
                               it suffered the same weight and hunger and humiliation.
             Your throat rose to redden the day

                                                                              and we moistened your lips
                                                                        to keep the redness

from leaving.

Now something has happened to your throat.


No body, no day.

No god
              breaking down inside you once your body went
     the way of all bodies and days.

                                                               A beast dies and does not know
                                                          its name.

So we named you.


immortall Rose

eternall Flower

In whose absence we are but do not know it.

An ox weeping
                            at the sight of its departed yoke-mate.
              Incredulous or bridled, speechless
                                                                               or unable to apprehend or console or
                                                                         free itself.

The wrenching apart, the wrested.


Without struggle.

Without complaint.

However offered--
                                    your body, its leavetaking--it resembles still
                             our own.

                                                 To be hauled away, our arms flung around
                                            the neck of a dying animal.

How you left us.

Your timorous beasts.

On the Body and Ablaze

Fetch smoke.

The sky is

              with sulfur and ash. Above us
      so many orphaned shadows.

                                                           They could belong to no one,
                                             to everyone. There are so many

parts to the body.


In the meadow
each thing

                     burns, a miniature apocalypse, feverish
        even in daylight--

                                               and these signs will accompany
                                      those who believe--

                             That ardor.

That incendiary.


By which to attend, to

                Not the same as to burn
      but to burn others.

                                             This meadow, the sky a hideous bloom, all
                              the parched birds who take flight

                                                                                            from the smoke in their wings--

                                                              swallow, swallow, swallow--


We are made
and then

                  undone, the broken stirrings
      of small wings and voices,

                                                        their delicate architecture
                                              of bone and petal,

                                                                                 petal and bone.

                             That deft.

               That tearing.

But we do not
know it,


we do not recognize

              The fire, the animal caught within
       its approach, my lost name.

                                                          Consumed in it, pronounced
                                             by it, what can I belong to

other than what has already


These breakages,

the remarkable openness
they lay bare.

                                 The indiscriminating blackening
                 of everything remaining, everything

                                                                                     no longer there--

                                                               these signs--

                                            The fleece stained, the animal

and now a part of it


If you should ask
how I found

                         the beloved--

               (there was, there was)

                                                                so much hurling myself
                                                 away from, so much
                                                                                          hurling myself--strayed, unrecoverable,
                                                                             through the slowly, slowly,
                                silting down air--


A red

             breaking down. And then dawn.
      The sparrow lying in the field

for over a week now,



What this means--

or a lostness.

Coming upon it

               our morning walk. Such harrowing
       and hurt. Such a small asking.

What is it for?


The child holds it.

Her hands
an alter, the bird

                                    a failure of flight, of persuasion,
                 of whatever might lift us

beyond this


Knowing it failed,
we become

                      wingless, that much nearer
      to what it means to be living.

Through which all things pass.

Through which you
and you

Joshua Kryah is the author of Glean (2007). A former Schaeffer Fellow in poetry, he teaches at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

"The mustaches Joshua drew with his mother's lipstick still adorn his childhood front porch in St. Louis, Missouri. It was here he spent endless hours awaiting release from his captors during neighborhood jailbreak. Thus the mustaches."


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