collaborative work by

Dana McKenna & Ben Clark


This week I’ve been haunting the mornings

This week, I've been haunting the mornings.
Singing only one song. Tiptoeing the floor boards.
Slipping out whichever door is furthest from view.
I try to get stronger while you’re gone, start a list
of beautiful garden poisons: Foxglove. Water
Hemlock. Dieffenbachia. Oleander. English Yew.
I thumb the fabrics along the rack of winter
clothing, pause to hold a cape out wide. I could
never wear a cape. You wander a farm and write
about the ghosts that inhabit the buildings there,
but you've never seen a ghost, or heard the sounds
they make when they're certain no one is listening.
Your kind heart couldn't take that sort of melancholy,
the winter air bruised by the melody. A hum,
a hymn, of wanting to live, but not.


I belong anywhere but here

a match
from a
flame already
lit. Frightened
by the
force it
slips to
the floor.

Everyone looks
familiar but
from where
I don't
know. Rats
rustling in
the brush
a reminder
of when
each of
them turned
from me
at once.

Craving rain
and missing
them, floating
down rivers.
I open
latches on
doors that
lead from
one to
the next,
then nowhere,
then you
tucked inside.


[Begin and end where you must. . .]


Begin and end where you must. Admit
your dreams are damaged things. When I ask you
to describe a past love, call them more soil than sky,
not a bird to be indentified. When you’re away,
I revisit an old version of myself.
I leave most of the wine untouched,
only use one pillow,
think mainly about what I’ll forget to write. I
put on my before my shirt, somehow,
lean down chest bare.
When you return home,
you’ll find me in this same position.

I know how you look when
you let your hair down.
Dressed in things left behind, foxglove in beard,
you’ll find me crouched in a barn I know will collapse,
and still bury my faith inside. Less frightened of ghosts
grounded, than a spirit who takes to the sky. The owls,
swoop low, gently draped in moonlight. I
hollow my throat to respond from below.
So many things I’m unwilling to say. When I arrive, I’ll
shelter some terror, and you’ll voice your own.
We’ll capture the light trembling through the window,
and paint it tenderly across our bodies, broken or not.


Dana McKenna and Ben Clark live, work, and write in Chicago, Illinois.

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