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Grey Sparrow Journal and Press, as of January 31, 2018 will move to

Issue 30, July 31, 2017
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Down the cellar stairs

in the mote-thick shaft of light

dreaming through the sill window

the emerald plastic garden hose

rests in sloppy coils

tossed there in October

Or was that fifty years ago


I’m not in the dark up here

It doesn’t raise its brassy nozzle

to check my silhouette

And going down’s no risk

in that chiaroscuro

no eyes glimmering close to tears

uplifted to homey daylight

up a flight


No demons to speak of

we have lived long in this antique

hemlock house

taking each other’s lives

without malice


But I’ve forgotten what I want…

Is it really the hose

Our plot is April soaked

a romance novel


or is it something stored down there

maybe in that hooped wooden barrel

I have never opened

Maybe yellowed salt pork

or mummified herring

Such an old house

Infants have died in it


I am losing my mind

Everything is everything else all the time

Used to go from one thing to another

now looking down with the same

gratitude as looking up

no hope or supplication

The viper on the dirt floor

has been placidly cold for eons

Sometimes I screw one end into the other

for easy handling


Left loose long life

can be wonderfully messy

One screws up willingly

putting things together

but why get rattled

imagining the end of everything

snoozing in the crypt


in caves in slots

under and between schists and metamorphic

catacombs all over the world

snakes minding their business

where human beings take

each other’s vitals

or heads…over and over


Any pastor priest or mullah

should intone “do you, so and so,

take this woman’s life…

…this man’s life”


Take a break

where children get murdered

by drive-by shooters

the annual school bus crash or prom

convertible speeding into a tree

or off a cliff the driver drunk

texting asleep or happy

all crushed in Maine or Texas

the ambulance flashing without arrhythmia

under bare sun or full moon or simple night

where volunteers and gazers

flicker in and out of the theater

dazed and content to be alive

to not for a moment know where we are


The President calls for the lights to go up

expresses outrage and condolence

takes action…orders a bombardment

Tomahawks rising from his armada

to collaterally take out a wedding

in a baked mud village set in sand

when Akhenaten was the rage

the blood-soaked “mistake” evaporating

after appropriate reporting of events

Some bad guys in black died too

the explosive special effects

rhapsodized by FOX and the old CEO/VP

who has replaced his faltering ticker 

taken another man’s son’s heart

who died too young of an overdose

of everything


What better way to go


Everything depends upon

the serpent in our brains

taking a Jurassic nap

camouflaged by homeless shade

and migrant light

dementia or baffled conscience


I have cracked the lid of ice

and watched a garter snake

brumate under a tipped brick

at the bottom of our spring box

without animus in our drinking water


The hose will laze in the grass again

I am too lazy to coil and take it to shade

the sun heating the water the vinyl

supple as metaphor…tumescent

digesting allusions

a fawn or local child

a feral three-legged dog

a capybara in National Geographic

visions that shrink and stiffen overnight

in reason’s gloomy cool


It will slither back

down the steps this Fall

understanding the gravity

without attacking


It’s said that Lawrence of Arabia

stepped on an adder and it did not bite

He had a daemon and no wife

pain his opioid for Sykes/Pico, so…


I peer down at Ace Hardware’s version

slack in the oasis of dim lit reverie


                                 -Paul Nelson