Blackbird an online journal of literature and the arts Fall 2007  Vol. 6 No. 2


Chris Abani
Victoria Chang
Michael Chitwood
Keith Ekiss
Gibson Fay-LeBlanc
Beth Ann Fennelly
Raza Ali Hasan
James Hoch
Cyan James
Julia Johnson
Larry Levis
Khaled Mattawa
Timothy O’Keefe
Catherine Pierce
Jon Pineda
John Poch
Austin Segrest
Louie Skipper
Ron Smith
Robert Thomas
Joshua Weiner
Lesley Wheeler
Charles Wright


Weegee: Coney Island Beach after Midnight

No moon is good. I take off my shoes
And go silently so as not to lose
The shot I know is lurking there—
            American made
            Is my stock-in-trade,
As whatever’s in the frame I choose,
I chose, though it’s like I wasn’t there.

What’s out there? Why, sweethearts in love
Making love out where it’s dark enough.
I wouldn’t disturb them for the world.
             Each kiss, what’s left
             Between each breath—
Hard work, but the kind that makes you laugh.
There goes a match. What’s that I heard?

There, in the lifeguard station lookout,
Lovers exhausting each other’s doubt.
I’ll catch them fast without a flash:
            To make it clear
            How they appear
Like drags inhaling their way to ash,
Or a mouth getting ready to shout . . .

Too dark to have used the range finder there,
It’s like scooping yourself, your feeling, where
Trying to find the way, you’re caught
            (The frame in which
            Your subjects twitch)
Alive, exposed, and as if too near:
The lens opens and you take the shot.

Why they were up there near the sky
I thought I’d see as the fluid primed
The image into a final shape;
            But all I found
            Was a kind of sound,
A woman up there like a lie,
Alone and bewildered after the rape.

You can read the “Lifeguard Only” sign
She leans against. There’s no clear line
Between her hair and where the night
             Begins to fan
             Out in a plan
Expanding further than stars can shine,
And outside my frame to make it right.

What did she choose, which choice was deferred
As she waited for the bus without a word
No matter where she sat to wait?
             All that is there:
             The apparent stare
Out to the wave that can’t be heard
That she readies herself to contemplate. 

(reprinted by permission of University of Chicago Press)

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