Today's poem is by Bryan Penberthy


Places like this aren't invented.
            The cold, industrial polish of this city
skews light, and what it reflects

            it returns badly. Splitting the landscape,
an obsidian river carves
            silhouettes of brush and rocks, banks strewn with mica

and quartz shards, pale smoke frozen
            in crystal. A storm-split oak arcs into
bridge-lit water, a coral

            reef suspended in dandelion wine. The trees
and half-illuminated
            buildings seem submerged.

            I know so little
about things that matter. How
            to be a good man. Why rivers are constantly

moving, apparently toward
            ends that mean completion. Whether, drinking
their waters, I would forget

            these twilights—the smell of wet brick and broken pines,
indigo and sapphire-troubled
            skies—or drown. My distracted heart beats codes

I'm unable to translate.
            The only ritual I know how to perform
is rubbing the sleep from my eyes.

Copyright © 2006 Bryan Penberthy All rights reserved
from New Orleans Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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