Winter 2012

Table of Contents - Vol. VIII, No. 4


Poetry    Translations    Fiction    Non-fiction    Reviews   

Bruce A. Jacobs



Body Surfing

In a glass dish on my desk,
a candle flame heaves its way
toward nothing.
This life is
a thick swim.
Invisible water, with the
grainy cling of earth.
Its spherical touch
sealed around my skin.
The naked trees know,
awash in poured fog
that sinks through their arms at dusk.
They need half-buried selves
just to stand here. So
here we go.
On my desk, the flame points itself
toward nowhere.
Through swaying curtains,
passing cars hiss on the road
like dry water, each a wave cresting: here,




Come to me, moon:
a fat sky shot full of stars
and you, circling white ember,
swinging hot light
as if it’s free.

I am locked out of tonight
by glass. A fossil in ice.
Windowed loser.
Come, shatter. Breach me,
make an open crescent
of my white skull.
Burn me blind,
sear me free of
this room of crystal and ether,
this packed atmosphere
I cannot inhale –

Come to me. This is
war and I want to
lose to the universe,
lose to the nuclear bonfire
of space, this place
shot full of stars
where I squat

rubbing my hands
in moonlight
like wet kindling
in flame.



Second Sight

the beauty of night
is its undoing of seeing.
a hand closes around the world
and unlit hours bring
a gift of blindness,
a sharpening of
the rest of what we know:
the graze of air in its endless travel,
the easy riot of riding earth’s rocket
on one’s back, eyes closed.
what a time,
this roll in the black hay,
this swim in the dark thick of things,
this short tunnel of sight
between the light and the light.



Punch Line

She’s gone fetal,
curled like a fishhooked worm
in the hospital bed, all scabs
& sores from nights of waking up
at the bottom of the living room stairs
or flat on the kitchen tile.
After eight years of a heart’s
coming up shorter &
shorter for air,
her bones hoist skin
like a losing sail
& chewing one mouthful
of crushed ice
leaves her breathless.

Her 40-year-old daughter
raises the blanket, crawls in
up against her, a spoon nesting
from behind. She lifts
her mother’s hand & does nothing
but hold it, the way a parent might
gently steer a vomiting child
back into the world.
Her mother lies on her side
& bitches at the Lord
like only an 80-year-old Catholic can:
all this, & now flu & fever
& a God who withholds

Who knew that dying
could be like paint that won’t dry?
Blood trapped against the ceiling
while the ship dawdles at sinking.
I once knew a woman
who lay on her mother’s grave
& talked to her as if
they were on bunk beds.
I wonder if they spooned
through the brain cancer,
a daughter digging in with her hips to
help mama push her way
out of here.

This fever is hell, the mother breathes
at me with what’s left
of a whisper
& nearly a smirk. She gets the joke
of being unable to die, of giving
the Savior the finger.
She reaches, strokes my hand
like a gypsy & rasps,
I’ll pray for you
without looking to see
if I laugh.


© Bruce A. Jacobs


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Poetry    Translations    Fiction    Non-fiction    Reviews   

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