Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsFall 2017  Vol. 16 No. 2
an online journal of literature and the arts
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The Machine's Guide to Grief

When you enter
the house of mourning,

do not greet the bereaved:

sit with them on the low ground,
talk with them of the dead.


The dying, near the finish, feel
a crumbling: strain into ease, muscles

like wet bread. Count skin
down to bone.

Seal the memory neatly in mesh,
bathe the brow in mourners’ oil.


Do not be like the machine who spoke too much,
as if he had a god in him:

sorrys falling through the body like ball bearings,
equipped with slides and springs

to keep the moment buoyant. High in the sky,
a balloon, its heart on fire.


Talk with them of the dead:

Once, this was a landscape, not a portrait.
Once, it was enough to chase your love

across a screen, tension ending
at the border. Once, all it took was double-clicking with your pointer

and anyone would open.


The old go on: when we browsed the earth like elephants,
when our fingers bruised the ground.

When we called to one another, threw our voices
out of the atmosphere. The wireless body, now strung

and always glowing like a pearl. All night, the room
is lit by flat and sleepless eyes, neon remembering:

body of bread and copper, meat and hinges,
starch and spark.  

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